The population of our aging loved ones is on the rise. By the year 2050, almost one in five individuals will be above the age of 65 years. The rapid decrease in the rate of infectious disease attributes to the steady rise in the longevity of aging our loved ones. However, the incidence of infectious diseases has decreased to a greater extent. Our aging loved ones are still the most vulnerable when discussing chronic degenerative diseases. This is, by far, one of the leading causes of mortality in this population. Furthermore, our aging loved ones are at a greater risk of developing oral diseases due to a lack of proper oral hygiene practices. Oral diseases such as periodontal disease, oral cancer, and xerostomia have become common problems among the aging population.
Why is oral health essential for our aging loved ones?
The Washington Dental Service Foundation has also stated that about 23 percent of elderlies aged 65 – 74 years also suffer from gum disease. This is an important reason for contributing to the loss of their natural teeth. Furthermore, chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes largely contribute to the problem of oral health.
Poor oral health develops when our loved ones cannot independently care for their teeth and mouth hygiene. Unfortunately, many conditions, such as frailty, diseases, cognitive impairment, and polypharmacy, make it difficult for our loved ones to properly care for their oral health.
Poor oral health significantly impacts other health issues in the body.
Functional problems involving the tongue and swallowing mechanisms can also affect the elderly’s to take care of their oral hygiene.
The importance of oral health in older adults
Poor oral health has a severe impact on the rest of the body. Therefore, it becomes essential to practice good oral hygiene. In addition, we must make our aging parents understand that poor oral hygiene has a direct or indirect association with several diseases.
Here are some of the reasons which can help your loved ones understand the importance of oral health:
Maintaining good oral hygiene can go a long way in preventing deadly infections. Gum infections can lead to the onset of other conditions such as pneumonia, heart disease, gum decay, and root decay. WGuminfections can be annoying for our loved ones, but heart disease and pneumonia are life-threatening.
Increased risk of other diseases
If older adults do not care for their oral hygiene enough, they could be at an increased risk of developing diabetes. In addition, poor oral hygiene can improve their blood sugar levels, making them strong candidates for diabetes.
Edentulousness or tooth loss in the aging population is an independent risk factor for weight loss. Unfortunately, most of our loved ones with tooth loss often try to avoid foods rich in dietary fiber and prefer foods that are easy to chew for oral health. Adopting unhealthy nutritional practices can be fatal to our loved ones, gradually leading to malnutrition or other oral health problems.
Tips for maintaining good oral hygiene
We must never forget that a healthy mouth will allow us to eat healthily and remain healthy!! So, here are some tips that would help your loved ones maintain good oral health.
Encourage your loved ones to brush their teeth twice daily with fluoride toothpaste. Also, ask them to floss their teeth every day.
Don’t aDon’tthem about chewing tobacco or candies containing a high amount of sugar.
A visit to a dentist every year is mandatory to keep oral health under check.
You can also ask your loved ones to rinse their mouth daily with mouthwash. For example, a mouthwash containing chlorhexidine would be highly beneficial if they suffer from gum disease.
If your loved one has undergone valve replacement or prosthetic joints, they need to be extra cautious about their oral health to prevent infections and other accompanying complications.
Caring for dentures
As already explained, only a tiny paging population can retain their natural teeth. Therefore, dentures are commonly used by the majority of the aging population. However, if the dentures are not cleaned properly, they can lead to fungal infections. Here are some simple tips for taking care of dentures:
As far as possible, avoid wearing dentures at night. This is because the gum tissues need some time off. It is best to clean the dentures and place them in a glass bowl filled with clean cold water.
The dentures should be cleaned with a brush using mild soap and under running water.
While wearing dentures, it is best to avoid using fluoride toothpaste.
Never allow your loved one to use damaged dentures. Dentures with damage are a vital source of infections and should be replaced immediately.
Changes in teeth as we age
Our loved ones should be expecting specific changes in their teeth. Below are some conditions that are likely to develop as one page. But, first, let us understand the various requirements we need to look for in our aging loved ones.
Dry mouth: Though this is not a common accompaniment of old age, but can often occur if your loved ones are on medications for chronic illness.
Sensitive teeth: This is a common aging problem; you can expect your loved ones to experience this more often. The problem while eating hot or cold foods becomes pretty standard when the gums recede naturally, exposing those areas of the tooth which are no longer protected.
Gum disease: Prevent gum disease by practicing good oral hygiene. The formation of plaque on the teeth can give rise to gum disease, which can also result in tooth loss if proper action is not initiated on time.
Oral cancer and Seniors
The risk of oral cancer increases as one ages. Therefore, one needs to be vigilant about any unusual changes or sudden development of symptoms. Here is an extensive list of signs and symptomsyou need to look out for in your aging loved ones. Alternatively, you can educate your loved ones regarding the same, so they can even differentiate between the usual and unusual signs.
Difficulty while chewing food or swallowing liquids
Development of a white or red-colored patch inside the mouth
A sore in the mouth that doesn’tdoesn’t spot or a lump on the lip, mouth, or throat
Inflammation in the jaw
The tongue or the mouth becomes difficult to move or becomes numb
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