It’s National Nursing Home Week May 12-18, and the theme this year is teamwork. The American Health Care Association encourages family, friends and caregivers to “pitch in” and work together to keep the seniors in their lives healthy.
Good dental care is essential for seniors’ overall health. And while seniors today keep their natural teeth longer than previous generations, it’s important for dental professionals to understand their patients’ medical conditions to ensure effective treatment.
Periodontal disease can be a major cause of tooth loss in adults, particularly seniors. Careful oral hygiene and regular dental visits can help control periodontal disease. Here are some signs of gum disease that can lead to tooth loss:
- Bleeding gums during brushing
- Gums that have pulled away from the teeth
- Loose teeth or teeth moving apart
- Change in bite or a change in the fit of partial dentures
- Constant bad breath or bad taste
Medications used to treat disease can cause dry mouth, or a lack of saliva in the mouth. Dry mouth can lead to dental decay, denture sores, speech and eating problems. Treatments for dry mouth include:
- Topical fluorides or antimicrobial mouth rinses
- Artificial saliva, oral moisturizers and lubricants
- Nighttime use of bedside humidifiers
- Drinking fluids, sugar-free chewing gum, candies and mints
It’s important for seniors to see a dentist regularly. For more information on how seniors can care for their oral health, read more.