As a family caregiver, you likely spend a lot of time taking care of your aging loved one’s personal hygiene, from showering and grooming to toilet needs and getting dressed. Every hygiene plan includes brushing teeth, but what about when your loved one has dentures? Too many family caregivers think that because their elderly loved one doesn’t have any natural teeth that they don’t need to think about oral hygiene anymore. This couldn’t be further from the truth, and neglecting the mouth can lead to big health problems.
Dentures and Seniors
For a variety of reasons, elderly people can lose some or all of their teeth and need to get dentures. Dentures help the elderly continue to speak and eat normally. In fact, seniors are more likely to have higher self-esteem when they have well-fitting dentures because they can do everything they used to do when they had all their natural teeth.
While the technology for dentures has come a long way, there are still some problems that can arise from them. The most common issues are fungal infections in the mouth, sores or ulcers in the soft tissues, gum disease and irritation from the denture adhesive. That’s why it is important for the mouth tissue of an elderly person with dentures to get as much attention as the dentures themselves.
Cleaning and Resting Tissues
The gums, cheeks, tongue and soft tissues in the mouth still need to be part of a comprehensive oral hygiene plan. Family caregivers or home care assistants should help the elderly person brush these areas with a soft toothbrush and toothpaste. The bristles also massage the gums, stimulating circulation and getting rid of bacteria and fungus that can cause problems in the mouth. Healthy gums are also more resistant to mouth sores and infections from them.
Brushing the cheeks and tongue with toothpaste is an excellent way to get rid of the germs that cause bad breath. It also releases food particles that may be stuck in the tissues. If there are some natural teeth left, these should be cleaned just like dentists have recommended for many years. Seniors should clean their mouth in the morning before putting in their dentures and again in the evening when removing them. A salt water rinse every few days will also help keep the gums, cheek and tongue tissue more healthy
When an aging loved one has dentures, they definitely need to see their dentist every six months. There are lots of things that dentists look for in the mouth besides teeth. At a regular dental visit, seniors will be examined to make sure their mouth tissues are healthy, the dentures fit right and there are no signs of any diseases or infections. The dentist will also look for signs of oral cancer.
Seniors, family caregivers and home care assistants should spend a lot of time and energy taking care of the dentures. After all, they are costly and require special cleaning and storage steps to stay in good shape. However, they should not neglect the elderly loved one’s mouth, which also needs care and attention even if there are no natural teeth left.
If you or an aging loved one are considering home care in Howell, NJ, contact the caring staff at Care Street Home Care’s Ocean/Monmouth Division. Call today 732-719-7011.
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