Oral health conditions are very common among the elderly, and some of those health complications can be quite dangerous when left untreated. Here’s a closer look at five oral health issues many seniors face and some steps that can be taken to prevent them.
1. Tooth Decay
Tooth decay is one of the most common medical conditions in the world, and almost everyone will develop some form of tooth decay over the years. Untreated tooth decay can lead to cavities and painful tooth infections, which is why older adults should do everything in their power to keep their teeth clean. Brushing multiple times a day with fluoride toothpaste is a senior’s first line of defense against tooth decay. Older adults should also avoid sugary drinks that cling to the outside of their teeth and destroy the enamel.
A professional caregiver can be a great asset for seniors who need help with everyday tasks like brushing and flossing their teeth. Families who need help caring for senior loved ones can turn to Assisting Hands Home Care, a leading provider of senior care. Services available in our customizable care plans include meal prep, mental and social stimulation, assistance with personal hygiene tasks, and much more.
2. Gum Disease
Much like tooth decay, gum disease is caused by harmful bacteria in the mouth. When those germs aren’t removed, they attack the gums and damage the soft tissue. In the earliest stages of this disease, seniors usually notice some inflammation and sensitivity. In addition to brushing multiple times a day, seniors should also use an antibacterial mouthwash to kill off the harmful germs and rinse away any lingering food debris in the mouth.
3. Oral Cancer
Oral cancer is usually caused by heavy drinking or using tobacco products, and it can produce a wide array of unusual symptoms. Some seniors develop sores on their gums that won’t seem to go away, while others feel as if their gums are constantly throbbing. Seniors who notice unusual issues with their teeth or gums should immediately contact a dentist for a thorough exam. The only way to accurately diagnose oral cancer is to test a small sample of the soft tissue.
If your loved one is diagnosed with oral cancer or any other serious disease, compassionate help is available. Living with serious health conditions can make it challenging for seniors to age in place. However, they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional live-in care. Annapolis seniors can benefit from assistance with meal prep, bathing, transportation to the doctor’s office, medication reminders, and much more.
4. Dry Mouth
Also known as xerostomia, chronic dry mouth is a serious health complication that must never be ignored. Untreated dry mouth increases the risk of many different health issues, including periodontal disease and dental caries. If your loved one is experiencing chronic dry mouth, encourage him or her to chew sugar-free gum throughout the day. You’ll also need to check all your loved one’s medications to see if dry mouth is a potential side effect. To get rid of dry mouth, the doctor might need to alter your loved one’s medications or change the dosage.
5. Tooth Loss
Practically every senior is going to lose at least one adult tooth, and tooth loss needs to be addressed as quickly as possible. When a tooth isn’t replaced, all the other teeth are going to shift, which increases the risk of bone loss, malocclusion, and facial deformations. If your loved one’s jaws are relatively healthy, he or she might be a good candidate for dental implants. These restorative devices are anchored directly into the jaw, and they look and feel just like real teeth.
Seniors who want to remain healthy as they age can benefit in a variety of ways when they receive professional home care. Annapolis, MD, Assisting Hands Home Care is here to help your loved one accomplish daily tasks, prevent illness, and focus on living a healthier and more fulfilling life. If your senior loved one needs help with the challenges of aging, call one of our compassionate Care Managers today.