For many senior citizens, poor dental health is an epidemic. Statistics compiled recently by the Washington Dental Service Foundation found that 75 percent of individuals who are at least 60 years old only had some of their natural teeth, while almost 23 percent of people between the ages of 65 and 74 had severe, advanced cases of gum disease. Oral health issues are even more prevalent among senior citizens in nursing homes or those in the midst of long hospital stays. A little prevention goes a long way. Therefore, your local Albertville dentists at Wall Street Dentistry offer these tips on how to prepare your teeth for retirement.
The medical consequences of poor oral health
This condition, which refers to the lowered production of saliva, affects approximately 30 percent of senior citizens. Dry mouth also is a frequently reported side effect of many of the prescription and over-the-counter medications that are taken regularly by senior citizens.
Oral health issues can affect the overall health and well-being of senior citizens. Gum disease and other dental hygiene issues raise the risk factor of developing serious, chronic ailments such as heart disease and gum disease. Furthermore, tooth loss impacts nutrition, as senior citizens lose some of their chewing ability, thus making it more difficult to eat nutrient-dense foods such as fruits and vegetables. Self-esteem also takes a hit, as senior citizens may be less likely to smile and socialize because they are worried about their appearance due to missing teeth.
How to help senior citizens improve their dental hygiene
The biggest thing that seniors and their caregivers can do to improve oral health is to make sure basic daily oral hygiene routines continue. Just like all adults, senior citizens should brush their teeth two times per day and floss daily. Senior citizens who are not physically able to care for their own teeth should have a family member, nurse or caregiver do it for them. Senior citizens also should make regular visits to their dentist—at least once every six months, if not more often.
Awareness also is important for senior citizens. Caregivers should undergo training so they can identify warning signs of potential dental issues, as well as symptoms of poor oral health. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research recommends caregivers follow a “tell-show-do” approach. Tell the patient about each step of dental care before it is done, show how that step will be performed, then do each step exactly how it was explained and demonstrated. This approach, in combination with establishing a set routine for dental care that is done at the same time each day, will make even difficult seniors more amenable.
Oral Care for Seniors in Albertville
Remember… a smile is a terrible thing to waste. At Wall Street Dentistry, we are committed to providing the highest level of care to any patient of any age. Our staff has the particular training and expertise to work with the unique needs of senior citizens. To learn more about our services, contact our office at (256) 878-0525 today to schedule a consultation or a tour of our facility.
Wall Street Dentistry is proud to serve the needs of patients in the areas of Albertville, Boaz, and Guntersville, Alabama.