As children, one of our parents’ jobs was to ensure that we developed healthy habits when it comes to our teeth, and that we received proper dental care. As parents grow older, the roles are reversed: we are the ones that turn into the overseers and ‘protectors‘ of our parents’ dental health.
Many seniors are keeping their natural teeth longer than ever, but with age still comes an even higher risk of dental disease that can lead to other health problems. When it comes to seniors and dental care, seniors may need to enlist their adult children or other family members and loved ones to assist with care, especially dental hygiene. In fact, the American Dental Association encourages caregivers and family members, whether the seniors are at home or in a nursing home, to supervise or aid in maintaining seniors’ dental health by making sure they brush twice a day, floss once a day, eat a healthy diet and visit the dentist regularly.
Surprising new information from a recent issue of the Journal of Dental Research indicates that seniors who sleep in dentures are at a higher risk of developing pneumonia because bacteria from the mouth can be inhaled into the lungs. In addition, the American Dental Association (ADA) warns that bacteria that is allowed to linger in the mouth can cause tooth decay, gum disease and tooth loss.
During a recent phone interview, Judith Jones, DDS, director of the Center for Clinical Research at the University Goldman School of Dental Medicine in Boston and American Dental Association expert spokesperson on eldercare shared important facts and information on seniors and dental care for family members and caregivers. She also shared some tips to help improve seniors’ dental health.