According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 68% of adults aged 65 and older have gum disease, and an astounding 96% of adults 65 and older have had a tooth cavity.
These conditions are due to several factors such as access to healthcare because many seniors lose their dental insurance upon retirement, and the federal Medicare program does not cover routine dental care. Seniors generally take more medications that cause dry mouth, increasing their risk of gum disease.
✓ Gum disease – is caused by plaque build-up along the gum line. If untreated, it can lead to bleeding
gums, painful chewing problems, and tooth loss. According to the American Journal of Public Health, more than half (53%) of seniors have moderate to severe gum disease.
✓ Tooth loss – usually occurs due to gum disease or severely damaged teeth that need replacement.
According to the AJPH, 19% of seniors no longer have natural teeth.
✓ Oral Cancer -Age places seniors at a higher risk for oral cancer. Seniors should be encouraged to see their dentist regularly, even if they have lost all of their natural teeth, as this disease may not cause pain until it has advanced.
✓ Chronic Disease – Research shows strong associations between gum disease and diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
How can we help seniors improve their oral health?
✓ We can remind our loved ones to brush and floss their teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristle toothbrush.
✓ If your loved one uses dentures, help them clean them properly.
✓ Schedule regular dental checkups for your loved ones and ensure they keep those appointments.
✓ Encourage your loved ones to eat fruits and vegetables to maintain a healthy diet.
Seniors who suffer from cognitive impairment like dementia, tend to forget activities of daily living.
Poor oral health affects the way one eats, drink, speak and smile. Good oral health practices can help prevent pain, tooth decay, gum disease, tooth loss, and oral cancer.
Reasons why oral care essential:
✓ Tooth decay – occurs when plaque builds up on teeth and causes cavities by damaging the teeth enamel. Dry mouth, which affects many seniors due to medications they are taking, is also a risk factor for tooth decay.
✓ Encourage your loved ones to drink water throughout the day.
✓ If your loved one is a smoker or uses tobacco products, encourage them to avoid using those products to reduce their risk of gum disease and oral cancer.
If you notice that your loved one is having difficulty in maintaining good oral health in addition to other
activities, it may be time to consider receiving help. At Hope Home Care, we provide assisted living services for your loved ones who require grooming and dressing assistance, medication reminders, and physical activities. We accompany your loved ones to doctors’ appointments and keep them socially engaged. This helps your loved one maintain their quality of life.
If you notice that your loved one is having difficulty in maintaining good oral health in addition to other activities, it may be time to consider receiving help. At Hope Home Care, we provide assisted living services for your loved ones.– HHCI
American Dental Association, “Aging and dental health.”
American Journal of Public Health, “Oral Health and Aging.”
American Heart Association, “Bad tooth brushing habits tied to higher heart risk.”
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Oral Health for Older Americans.”
National Institute of Aging, “Taking care of your teeth and mouth.”
IN THIS ISSUE
What causes Oral Health issues for Seniors.
Importance of good Oral Health.
Support for Seniors.