Making Sure Your Elderly Parent Practices Good Oral Hygiene
Some of the dental/oral hygiene issues that your elderly parents could experience as they get older are as follows:
- Gum disease/gingivitis/periodontitis. This can be caused by poor brushing habits, as well as smoking, dentures and bridges that don’t fit well, anemia, cancer, diabetes – all more prone to crop up in us as we age.
- Loss of teeth. Often a result of gum disease.
- An uneven jawbone. Often caused by the loss of a tooth and then not replacing it.
- Stomatitis caused by dentures. Often comes about as a result of poor-fitting dentures, poor oral hygiene or growth and buildup of the fungus Candida albicans. Stomatitis is an inflammation of the tissue under the denture.
- Darker teeth. This often comes about after years and decades of consuming foods and beverages that stain the teeth (such as tea, tobacco, etc.). It’s also caused due to the thinning of the outer layer of enamel, which means the darker and yellower dentin shows through.
- The sense of taste declines with age. It just does. Dentures, some diseases and medications also can contribute.
- Dry mouth. Dry mouth occurs when the flow of saliva declines, sometimes as a result of radiation cancer treatments to the head and neck, as well as Sjogren’s syndrome. Side effects of some medications also can cause dry mouth.
As the saying goes: “Old age is not for sissies.” Your elderly parents may be experiencing some oral hygiene conditions that make you shudder, through no fault of their own.
Still, it’s imperative that your elderly parents continue to practice good oral hygiene habits: brushing with fluoride toothpaste twice a day and flossing at least once a day. Plus the twice-a-year checkup and tooth cleaning by a Plano dentist.
If some of your parent’s oral problems are caused by ill-fitting or the improper care of his or her dentures, head to the dentist for a check. You also should recommend that your mom or dad use an anti-plaque mouthwash.
Is your parent eating too many sweets? Gently point out that this could be causing some of their dental problems.
Ask your parent about the last time he or she had a checkup at the dentist. If it’s been more than a month, see if you can get your mom or dad to make an appointment right then. Offer to go with him or her and then go out to lunch together afterward.
If you’re concerned about your elderly parent’s oral health, bring your concerns – or your parent! – to Dr. Darren Dickson’s office for a checkup. Contact our office by phone or send us a message via our online contact form.