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Seniors brushing teeth
Poor dental health leads to serious health conditions
When taking care of older adults, dental care isn’t just something that’s nice to have. Dental health seriously affects overall physical health, nutrition, and well-being. Poor dental health is also associated with increased risk for heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and other serious conditions.

But senior dental care isn’t always easy, especially for those with serious health conditions. We’ve got 3 tips that make it easier for older adults to practice good dental hygiene.

3 ways to help seniors keep their mouths healthy

  1. Switch to an electric toothbrush
    Arthritis, hand tremors, or weakness can make it nearly impossible to brush teeth thoroughly. To make it easier, switch to an electric (automatic) toothbrush. Less hand strength and control are needed and it takes the work out of brushing. Some toothbrushes even have built-in timers so there’s no need to guess how long to brush.

Some options:

  1. Brush or rinse after meals
    Seniors tend to have less saliva because of medication side effects and the natural effects of aging. After meals, trapped food particles can quickly become bacteria breeding grounds. Minimize bacteria in your older adult’s mouth by getting them into the habit of brushing (or at least rinsing) about 30 to 60 minutes after eating. Fortunately, that’s most likely when they’ll need to use the toilet anyway.
  1. Change to a salt water rinse
    Using salt water to rinse the mouth instead of plain water is a very effective way to improve senior dental health. Just add about a half teaspoon of salt to a cup of warm water, stir, and rinse! A salt water rinse increases the pH balance of the mouth. This makes it more difficult for bacteria to grow. It’s less irritating to the mouth than a store-bought mouthwash — and cheaper too!

Bottom line
Keeping your older adult’s mouth healthy is just as important as caring for the rest of their body.

A healthy mouth helps seniors keep more of their natural teeth so it’s easier to eat, reduces the risk of pain and inflammation, and reduces risk of serious conditions like heart disease and Alzheimer’s.

 

By Connie Chow, Contributing Writer and Founder of DailyCaring.com
Image: Westgate Family Dental

Photo of Connie Chow, founder of DailyCaring

 

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