The Importance of Oral Health for the Elderly

Within today’s aging population, people are keeping their teeth longer which means that maintaining good oral hygiene is more important than ever. Studies have shown clear links between poor oral hygiene and systemic diseases such as advanced gum disease and cardiovascular disease. As a consequence, poor oral health can have a large impact on an individual’s overall health.

Tooth brushing should be carried out twice a day using a fluoride toothpaste suitable for the individual’s needs. Sugar consumption should be restricted to mealtimes only and any snacking between meals should be sugar-free.

Difficulty with mobility or carrying out finer movements can also influence the effectiveness of oral hygiene practices. Individuals who are unable to open their mouth, grasp a toothbrush correctly or carry out tooth brushing movements can have an increased risk of dental decay and/or advanced gum disease. An electric toothbrush can help overcome this issue if mobility is reduced to help improve oral hygiene.

Interdental cleaning is of high importance alongside brushing to prevent plaque from collecting between the teeth and causing decay. An array of interdental aids are available to make cleaning between teeth easier and also to accommodate those will dexterity issues; ranging for larger-grip handles, longer length brushes, and electric water-irrigators. Explore the options available to meet individual needs.

As individual ages, the likelihood of them taking medication increases. For the most part, medications work will minimal side-effects, however, the side-effects of some common medication can present within the mouth. Medications for sufferers of high blood pressure may require calcium channel blockers, the medication can encourage gum overgrowth making it harder to clean effectively leading to further problems. Ask your dental care professional for advice on how to modify your current oral health practices to accommodate these issues.

Most importantly, regular access to dental treatment should be arranged. As a result, disease can be diagnosed early, managed and prevent more invasive treatment being required.

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