Did you know that oral health can affect other parts of your body? Gum disease, a common oral hygiene issue caused by infrequent or poor cleaning of the teeth and gums, has been linked to a higher risk of heart disease and stroke among seniors. Because problems associated with oral health can be indicators of more extensive issues, it’s important to maintain good oral hygiene and pay close attention to changes in the appearance of the mouth, teeth and gums with age.
So what should you or an aging loved one be looking for?
- Bad breath
- Red or swollen gums
- Painful or bleeding gums
- Loose or sensitive teeth
- Receding gums
- Painful chewing
The build-up of bacteria on the teeth and gums can cause swelling and bleeding and can evolve into a more extreme form of gum disease called Peridontitis, which often leads to the loss of teeth. Fortunately, if caught in the early stages, professional dental cleaning and a regular oral cleaning schedule can remove tarter and minimize or remove the problem. If you see changes in your oral health, notify a doctor or dentist to find the appropriate course of action as soon as possible.
To avoid gum disease, there are a few basic hygiene principles that seniors, or their family caregiver, should be implementing daily. A gentle teeth cleaning with a sensitive bristle tooth brush is recommended after every meal. This prevents the build-up of bacteria and plaque and stops gum disease before it starts. If the senior is already wearing dentures it is crucial to make sure they fit properly. Gaps in dentures can allow for bacteria to enter causing painful infection and discomfort when eating. Lastly, seniors shouldn’t stop seeing their dentist! Regular cleanings should be scheduled every six months to protect against gum disease and other oral health-related issues.
If your aging loved one needs help staying on top of personal care, a Home Care Assistance caregiver can assist with everything from tooth brushing and flossing to household chores and nutritious meal preparation. Visit our website at www.torontohomecareassistance.ca or contact a Care Manager 416-488-8777 to learn more about our at-home care services for older adults in Toronto.