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Dental care: The ultimate guide to oral hygiene for older adults

Healthshots logo Healthshots 10-06-2021 Aayushi Gupta

You might be aware that good oral hygiene is an integral part of being healthy and hygienic. But sometimes, dental care is avoided or ignored by many older adults, and this can cause several issues. Yes, dental diseases are caused by poor oral hygiene, certain medications, and common chronic illnesses such as heart diseases or diabetes.

In fact, you may develop certain oral conditions at an older age that were not present when you were young. These include darkened teeth, dry mouth, attrition, gum diseases, root decay, sensitive teeth, and many more.

All in all, dental health is ultimately linked to your overall wellness and health, and that's why it is really important to take extra care. 

In addition, here are some reasons why dental care is critical for older adults.

1. Heart disease: According to the American Academy of Periodontology, gum diseases can increase the risk of heart attacks, stroke, and other heart conditions. Thus, maintaining proper oral hygiene and care is vital to prevent these conditions.

2. Tooth decay: Certain medications for depression, asthma, and high blood pressure can cause a dry mouth, which is a result of reduced saliva flow. And dry mouth significantly increases the risk of tooth decay and other oral diseases.

3. Pneumonia: An increase in the incidence of dental caries and missing teeth is associated with an increased risk of pneumonia.

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4. Diabetes: Major gum diseases can reduce the body's ability to properly utilise insulin. As a result, high blood sugar can cause gum infection, which is another reason why proper oral hygiene and care are important.

5. Gum diseases: Two in three seniors have gum diseases. It is one of the most common consequences of poor oral care and is most often the result of not removing plaque. 

Elderly people with these oral health issues could suffer from pain, discomfort and might experience problems with their jaw and mouth. These problems can make it difficult to eat and even drink. So make sure you follow the tips given below to maintain proper oral hygiene: 

1. Brush daily

Brush your teeth at least twice a day with a soft bristle toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste.

2. Floss at least once a day

Flossing helps lift and release food as well as plaque stuck in between your teeth. It also removes the particles from your mouth, so it is recommended to floss at least once per day.

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3. Keep your dentures clean

Remind your parents to clean their dentures daily. This will help them remove stubborn stains that are left.

4. Monitor sugar intake

Always monitor sugar intake, because a high sugar diet can cause tooth decay and other oral health issues. 

5. Ask your parents to avoid smoking

Smoking can dangerously impact your oral health, because it increases the risk of developing oral cancer, gum problems, decay on the roots of  the teeth as well as complications after tooth removal and oral surgeries.

6. Schedule regular dental checkups

Visit the dentist regularly for a complete dental checkup, cleaning and oral exam.

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