Senior Loved-One? Tips To Help Them Properly Care For Their Teeth

Posted on: 6 January 2015


With the growing list of health problems that are being discovered to be caused or worsened by diseased gums and tooth decay, it is more important than ever for the elderly to take great care of their teeth. Next time you visit your favorite senior, ask what his or her oral hygiene routine consists of and whether they visit the dentist regularly. If you get an answer that signals oral health is being neglected, then here are some ways you can help. 

1. Ask About Problems Being Faced when Caring for Teeth

This is the first step to helping your loved one care for their teeth properly. When you find out what is getting in the way of home teeth-care and visiting the dentist every six-months, then you can begin to take steps to help. 

Common problems the elderly have when caring for their teeth include:

  • Arthritis in hands that makes brushing and flossing difficult. 
  • Lack of transportation to and from the dentist's office. 
  • A simple lack of understanding about how important oral hygiene really is for their overall health. 
  • Dental fear or anxiety. 

Once you know exactly why your favorite senior neglects his or her oral health, you can then focus on the specific problems and finding ways to help.

If you find out that they neglect their teeth because they simply don't realize how oral health affects their entire body, then this can be a great time to discuss their specific health problems with them and how recent scientific studies have shown how oral health contributes to overall physical health. When your favorite senior was growing up, the impact of bad oral health on the entire body was not yet understood. 

2. Offer Specific Solutions Based on the Answers You Receive

Once you find out just what problems your elderly loved one faces when caring for their teeth, you can then offer tailored advice and solutions to those problems.

Arthritis: If arthritis in hands or any other type of hand pain impedes their ability to brush and floss, then two items that can help reduce these problems are electric toothbrushes and special flossing devices with handles. The American Dental Association recommends electric toothbrushes for elderly with arthritis. These toothbrushes help eliminate much of the arm and hand motion needed to use a manual toothbrush. When using an electric toothbrush, your loved one simply needs to hold it in his or her mouth and let the spinning brush head do much of the work for them. 

Flossing can be made much easier with special "flossers" that have a bit of floss already stretched out on a u-shaped piece of plastic with a handle attached.

Transportation Problems: Many seniors with vision problems or other health problems can no longer drive safely, and this can make transportation to and from the dentist for regular check-ups difficult. A taxi-cab ride may be too costly. If you can offer to provide transportation to a dentist like Schererville Family Dentistry, PC, then that is great. If you cannot because of an already busy schedule, then look into any local senior services that can provide transportation assistance. 

The mobile dental industry is also growing, and if you can find a dentist who offers this service, then that can make transportation issues a thing of the past. 

Dental Anxiety: Dental anxiety is a common issue for seniors, as well as many other people. If your loved one fears the dentist, first ask if they know why. If it stems from a bad dental experience many years ago, then find out just what this experience was. Remind your loved one that newer technology makes dental cleanings and procedures pain-free, fast, and easy. 

If he or she does not remember a specific event that triggered this fear, then sedation dentistry can help conquer this dental anxiety. Ask your loved one if they would feel more comfortable if given a relaxing medication before a procedure. Remind them that this can help calm them to make the experience much less stressful. 

Seniors need to care for their teeth well to help manage or avoid dental diseases that can also take a toll on their entire overall health. If you have a senior you love, then follow these guidelines to help ensure they are caring for their teeth properly.