Excellent Oral Hygiene is Important For the Elderly
So take the time to support and encourage older friends and family members.
With elderly patients, it’s more critical than ever to maintain good oral health, since they may already be dealing with damaged or decaying teeth. So, if you have an aging parent, relative, or friend, it’s important to provide the support and encouragement they need. Especially if they live alone, have declining health, or other special needs, you may be the first to notice that they’re experiencing dental problems.
How You Can Help
- If you notice wincing, pain, or difficulty when eating, don’t be shy about speaking up and asking about potential dental problems.
- Dentures that no longer fit correctly can cause pain, frustration, and eating problems. If you or someone you know has dentures that slip, consider getting new dentures, or getting a denture reline.
- Ask about their dental checkups. If needed, offer to drive them to the appointment, or ride along and attend for moral support. Regular care is critical now since dental problems like infections and periodontal disease can cause other illnesses or difficulties with their overall health.
How Caregivers Can Help
If you’re a caregiver for an elderly patient (who perhaps has dementia or Alzheimer’s disease) then you probably maintain a checklist of the necessary daily tasks. Don’t forget to include dental health as part of your routine!
- For as long as possible, encourage the patient to brush and floss for themselves.
- When you must help, physically demonstrate brushing and flossing, and let the patient follow your lead. Go slow and take it one motion at a time.
- When assisting, always explain what you are going to do and why it is necessary. Also, most elderly patients respond best to a regular schedule, so keep a consistent oral hygiene routine.
- For patients who use a wheelchair, it’s easiest to help brush and floss as you stand behind them. Gently cup the head as you work, and use the same technique when they’re lying or sitting down as well.
- Dentures should be removed and cleaned daily.