As your loved ones get older, it’s not uncommon to see them struggling with their daily routine. Unfortunately, one of the areas they may need help in is providing daily mouth care. Seniors may begin to neglect dental care and hygiene as they grow older, and this can cause dental problems and complications.
Besides, mouth diseases can lead to feelings of low self-worth, poor nutrition, and mouth pain. It can exacerbate other health problems such as heart disease and diabetes. Plaque and germs in the mouth can also put older adults at risk for lung infections and even pneumonia.
This is why it’s important to encourage dental care in older adults and find ways to provide their daily mouth care. Your role in providing daily mouth care is very important and will greatly improve your loved one’s overall health and quality of life. Read on to see how to give your loved ones the help they need.
Tips on How Improve Seniors’ Daily Mouth Care
Here are tips to improve dental health in seniors aaccording to the American Dental Association.
Caregiver Brushing Instructions
If your elderly loved ones find it difficult to brush and clean their teeth, you may need to help them or give their caregiver instructions on how to help. The caregiver can try different methods until they find something suitable for the person they are caring for.
Most people find it helpful to stand behind their loved ones and tilt the head until they can reach all teeth without fuss.
You or the caregiver can follow these guidelines for brushing the teeth:
- Take a look at their lips and inside the mouth. If you notice any cracking, lumps, white or red lesions, or sores that do not heal within two weeks, you should consult a dentist or doctor.
- Floss all teeth, dental bridges, and implants.
- Using a soft-bristled toothbrush, brush each tooth with a small circular motion and gentle pressure. Angle the brush towards the gums as you brush the outside, inside, and chewing surface of each tooth. Brush for two minutes, at least twice a day. If available, electric toothbrushes are a good option.
- Gently brush the tongue and roof of the mouth.
- Have them rinse with water or a germ-fighting mouthwash.
- If they are unable to rinse, ask them to spit out any excess toothpaste and debris. (Leaving a film of fluoridated toothpaste on the teeth can be beneficial.)
Remove any remaining food from your loved one’s mouth. A gauze or a soft cloth can be helpful to wipe away excess food. If brushing is not an option, ask them to rinse with a cup of water then spit back into the cup. Frequent sips of water throughout the day will help cleanse the mouth. Gum with xylitol is also a good option to help cleanse the mouth.
If Cleaning Problems Persist
Ask your loved one’s dentist about germ-fighting rinses. The dentist may also prescribe a stronger toothpaste that contains more fluoride to prevent cavities.
Professional Dental Care
If there are no problems, your loved one should visit the dentist for a professional cleaning and exam twice a year. Even those who wear dentures need an annual dental exam.