October is National Dental Hygiene Month and serves as a critical reminder for us to emphasize the importance of good oral hygiene in older adults.
“The major risks for tooth loss are tooth decay and gum disease that may increase with age because of problems with saliva production; receding gums that expose ‘softer’ root surfaces to decay-causing bacteria; or difficulties flossing and brushing because of poor vision, cognitive problems, chronic disease, and physical limitations,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Key factors that can improve the oral health of seniors include daily oral hygiene, the ability to access routine professional oral health services, and oral health education. Does your senior parent practice good oral hygiene habits? If your aging loved one struggles with mobility, lives with cognitive impairment such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, or takes prescription medications, your senior parent’s oral health may be at risk. Oral health problems in older adults include the following, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- Untreated tooth decay. Nearly all adults (96 percent) aged 65 years or older have had a cavity; 1 in 5 have untreated tooth decay.
- Gum disease. A high percentage of older adults have gum disease. About 2 in 3 (68 percent) adults aged 65 years or older have gum disease.
- Tooth loss. Nearly 1 in 5 of adults aged 65 or older have lost all of their teeth. Complete tooth loss is twice as prevalent among adults aged 75 and older (26 percent) compared with adults aged 65-74 (13 percent). Having missing teeth or wearing dentures can affect nutrition because people without teeth or with dentures often prefer soft, easily chewed foods instead of foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Oral cancer. Cancers of the mouth (oral and pharyngeal cancers) are primarily diagnosed in older adults; median age at diagnosis is 62 years.
- Chronic disease. Most older Americans take both prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Many of these medications can cause dry mouth. Reduced saliva flow increases the risk of cavities.
SYNERGY HomeCare of Corona, Riverside, and Anaheim Hills in-home caregivers can help your senior parent maintain a healthy mouth. Our in-home caregivers can encourage and help with daily oral health routines, whether good oral hygiene is ignored or is simply difficult to manage. If your senior parent is struggling to maintain beneficial oral hygiene habits, our in-home caregivers can provide your aging parent with:
- Scheduling dental appointments.
- Safe transportation to-and-from the dentist.
- Friendly hygiene reminders.
- Gentle assistance with teeth brushing, flossing, and rinsing.
- Limiting alcohol and tobacco use.
- Communicating with doctors regarding medication side effects, as some medications may cause dry mouth.
About SYNERGY HomeCare of Anaheim Hills
SYNERGY HomeCare of Anaheim Hills is the name you can trust in Anaheim, Anaheim Hills, Yorba Linda, Tustin, Santa Ana, Orange and Placentia for personal home care. SYNERGY HomeCare of Anaheim Hills is part of a national franchise of non-medical home care offices dedicated to providing exceptional and affordable service to anyone of any age. SYNERGY HomeCare caregivers are available 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, to those in need - including seniors, expectant moms, those suffering from sports injuries and debilitating illnesses, and more. SYNERGY HomeCare of Corona & Riverside can be found online at http://www.synergyhomecare.com/agencies/ca/anaheim-hills/ca25. The location also hosts active social media pages on Facebook and Twitter. Ken and Anna can be reached at 714- 706-1613 and [email protected].