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Helping older people maintain their oral health

If you're the sole carer for an older adult, you'll know just how much they depend on you to assist with things they may not have the ability to do alone anymore.

One of these factors is helping maintain a strong level of oral health, especially as older people are known to have higher rates of gum disease, tooth decay and tooth loss, according to Harvard Medical School. 

Here's how you can help your loved one stay on top of their oral hygiene.

Encourage regular brushing to prevent gum disease

Gum disease – also known as periodontal disease – is a common oral condition caused by a buildup of plaque on the surface of the teeth. The signs of gum disease are often painless and hard to spot, making this condition more prevalent and more advanced among the older generation.

The risk of gum disease can be lowered by brushing teeth thoroughly twice daily. However, age-related conditions such as dementia and arthritis can prevent someone from performing this basic task properly, thus increasing the build-up of deposits over the years.

If you're a carer, it's important that you offer encouragement and support to ensure regular brushing. We recommend using a soft-bristled toothbrush for this task as older people tend to have weaker enamel and receding gums, which can become aggravated when stiff bristles are applied. Furthermore, a fluoride toothpaste can work to protect natural teeth and strengthen tooth enamel, helping lower the risk of tooth decay.

Here's how you can help care for an older person's teeth.Gum disease can be hard to spot, but easily prevented, so always practise a strong level of oral care to reduce the risk.

Keep the mouth moist 

Ageing brings with it an increased risk of health issues, which often means more medications are needed to treat them. According to OraCoat, dry mouth is a side effect for an estimated 1,800 commonly prescribed medications, also called xerostomia. A lack of saliva not only causes discomfort, it can make eating and swallowing difficult, as well as increasing the risk of gum disease and tooth decay. This is because saliva helps remove food particles from the teeth as well as neutralising harmful acids found in the mouth. 

To mitigate the oral effects of dry mouth, encourage those in your care to sip more water, discourage smoking and caffeine consumption, and stimulate saliva production with sugar free mints.

Whilst helping care for their teeth, it's important to look out for any serious oral issues. If you notice something that isn't quite right, or they're experiencing pain, get in touch with City Dentists to book in for a check-up today.