Oral Care Tips for Seniors
- Posted on: Feb 28 2018
Historically, humans have had a certain perception of the aging process as an inevitable part of life. Of course, we know we can’t stop the body from growing older. However, advances are knowledge and healthcare have made it possible to age without the degree of consequences suffered by our ancestors. An example of this is how we are capable of keeping our teeth our entire lives these days, whereas just a Century ago, as much as half of the adult population had no teeth.
At DeStefano Dentistry, we provide the personal care that our patients need to support long-term oral health. One way we do this is by recognizing the unique needs that may occur with age.
The Importance of Oral Health
Having a healthy mouth isn’t only about having fresh breath and nice-looking teeth. Having a healthy mouth even goes beyond the pain that we want to avoid (root canal? No, thanks!). In the grand scheme of things, oral health is integral to overall health and wellness. Research has indicated as much through findings such as:
- Gum disease is now considered a biomarker and significant risk factor for the development of cardiovascular disease. Research has found the very same bacteria that exist in the diseased mouth in the arteries of the heart. It is believed that bacteria enter the bloodstream through inflamed gums and adhere to the fatty deposits in these arteries.
- Bacteria travel from the mouth to the lungs, too. Here, bacteria instigate a risk for pneumonia and other lung infections.
- Individuals with diabetes have a particular risk for gum disease. When the gums are unhealthy and inflamed, blood sugar is more difficult to manage. When blood sugar is not regulated well, there is a higher risk for gum disease. It’s a vicious cycle that needs to be interrupted with appropriate oral care.
How Seniors Can Maximize Oral Care
There are particular strategies that can improve the efficiency of oral care for seniors. These include:
- Brushing every morning and night, and flossing every night before bed. Another research finding indicates that, after age 50, plaque becomes more difficult to remove. Therefore, brushing and flossing take on new importance later in life.
- Make oral care easier by using an electric or sonic toothbrush. Brushing can feel difficult if your hands are stiff and cannot hold the brush well. An electric or sonic toothbrush takes some of that work off your plate through a rotating tip that moves bristles at you.
- Go easy on the gums. Gum tissue is delicate and can be abraded if you brush too hard. This is another benefit of using an electric toothbrush; that you are less likely to put too much pressure on the brush. When brushing, think about the movement of the bristles rather than the force of pressure.
- Dentures need care, too. It is easy to get complacent with denture care, but this can lead to long-term problems with gum health. Dentures should be cleaned daily with appropriate methods, such as soaking. Dentures can be brushed, but only with a suitable toothbrush that will not cause scratches.
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