Many people believe that tooth loss is a part of aging. But, the truth is, practicing good oral health habits can keep teeth strong and healthy throughout life. Even if your older family member has dentures, it’s still important for them to take care of their mouths so that they can eat comfortably and prevent infections.
Myths About Oral Health
Sometimes older adults fail to take care of their teeth because they believe common myths about oral health, like these:
- Only kids get cavities. People of any age can get cavities if they don’t take care of their teeth.
- If teeth don’t hurt, they’re healthy. Older people may not perceive pain as readily as younger adults, so they may not have symptoms when a problem first starts.
- Teeth get softer with age. Teeth don’t get softer, so if an older adult is having problems with teeth breaking, they have a problem.
Teeth shouldn’t be brushed if gums are bleeding. Bleeding gums signifies an infection and poor oral health. However, not brushing will only make the problem worse.
Common Oral Health Problems for Seniors
There are lots of things that can go wrong with senior mouths. Some of them are:
- Gum Disease: About 23 percent of older adults ages 65 to 74 suffer from severe gum disease. Gum disease starts with gingivitis where gums are swollen, red, and may bleed. If not treated, it escalates to periodontitis, which can result in tooth loss.
- Dry Mouth: Several kinds of prescription medications can cause the mouth to produce less saliva. Saliva is important for washing away bacteria, so when there is less of it, teeth are more susceptible to decay.
- Root Decay: The roots of teeth may become exposed because of gum disease or brushing too hard. Because the root of the tooth is softer than the crown, it decays more easily.
- Oral Cancer: People over the age of 40 are at higher risk for oral cancer. The signs of oral cancer can be hard to spot. A dentist will screen for oral cancer during dental appointments.
Senior care can help older adults to maintain good oral health. If your aging relative has a disability that makes it hard for them to brush their own teeth, a senior care provider can brush their teeth for them. Senior care providers can also help with cleaning dentures to keep mouths free of dangerous bacteria. If your older family member is unable to drive, a senior care provider can drive them to their dental appointments.
If you or an aging loved one are considering senior care in Robbinsville, NJ, please call the caring staff at Care Street Home Care. You can reach our Mercer/Burlington Division at (609) 496-5666.
Dr. Shelly, as he is fondly known, has served as an Alzheimer’s Support Group Facilitator in Mercer County and is a Certified Dementia Instructor. Knowledgeable, compassionate, and unusually devoted, his guidance is crucial in helping families understand their options and render decisions for their loved ones’ care plan. Dr. Shelly’s extensive experience, sincere and pleasant demeanor, and professional affiliations have made him a vital asset to Care Street.