Caring For An Aging Parent
In generations past – as we aged there was an expectation to begin to lose our teeth – but more and more of today’s seniors have reached their golden years with many or all their adult teeth intact. In fact, this cohort is the first to expect to keep their teeth for a lifetime. But to maintain this positive trend, seniors need to be aware of specific oral health concerns so maintaining their teeth can be a realistic goal.
Oral hygiene is important to remove harmful bacteria and plaque from the teeth, gums and dentures to keep the mouth healthy. For seniors and their caregivers, it can be challenging to maintain daily mouth care, but it is important as decay and infection can develop quickly. A healthy mouth supports good general health and overall well-being.
So what do you need to know about caring for an aging parent, relative or loved one?
A great number of questions arise about caring for the oral health for seniors – including questions such as do they still need to worry about cavities, do they need to clean their dentures, or still need to visit a dentist even though they have false teeth? The short answer to all of these questions and many other questions involving the oral health care of seniors is YES – maintaining good oral health care is important for maintaining good overall health care of all individuals young or old.
Other questions can also arise such as does their risk of oral cancer increase with age, or are they more susceptible to temperature sensitivity? Does their dentist know how to handle patients with dementia or other physical or mental illnesses or medications? All of these questions are valuable and can be answered simply by a caregiver contacting your dentist.
Managing situations where a parent has reduced dexterity can always be difficult, but speaking with your dentist is a great way to get tips on making to process simpler. They will be able to provide you with ideas on making maintaining good oral health care easier through a variety of aids and products.
If you and your parent are considering assisted living, perhaps in a long-term care facility, you should inquire what the facilities policies are surrounding the oral health care of their residents. Many care facilities do not provide simple assistance with such things are brushing or flossing. In addition, who is going to monitoring your parent’s oral health needs?
It is advised to have your parent visit a dentist before moving into a care facility, to update any dental charts, and discuss a treatment plan going forward. Together, you can discuss how regularly check-ups are needed, and ensure your loved-one’s oral health is conducive for living healthily and happily.