Senior Hygiene 101 - Oral Care
One of my senior clients began complaining this week about her dentures because they're hurting her mouth and affecting her ability to eat. We scheduled a dentist visit, but I also began researching ways to improve her oral care. Maybe the tips I discovered will improve senior hygiene for someone you know.
1. Understand how health conditions affect a senior's oral hygiene. They can cause gum disease, affect denture fit and create other oral hygiene challenges.
*Arthritis inhibits oral care, including flossing and brushing.
*Medications, including blood pressure meds and anti-depressants, cause dry mouth that may increase plaque and bad breath while compromising denture comfort. Certain immuno-suppressants may also increase the risk for periodontal disease since they inhibit a senior's ability to fight infections.
*Diabetes can increase gum disease and cause oral discomfort and ill-fitting dentures.
*Osteoporosis deteriorates the jaw and may cause ridges in gum tissue that trap food and increase oral disease risks.
*Cancer treatment may alter taste buds, inflame the gum, cheeks and lips, cause jaw stiffness or increase jaw swelling.
2. Brush and floss twice a day. An electric toothbrush may also be easier to handle than a manual toothbrush. Also, consider adaptive devices that improve grip. For example, glue a bicycle grip, sponge hair curler or rubber ball to the handle and use a ruler, tongue depressor or wooden popsicle stick to extend the handle's length.
3. See a dentist regularly. Bi-annual check-ups catch any gum, periodontal or other dental diseases. The dentist can also provide oral hygiene tips that help a senior maintains good oral care habits.
4. Suck on sugar-free candy and drink plenty of fluids. They combat dry mouth.
Senior hygiene can be a challenge. These tips may help seniors improve their oral care and hygiene. Are there any other tips you recommend?