6 Basic Oral Hygiene Tips for Seniors

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By the time people reach their senior years, they have decades of experience with brushing and flossing their teeth. However, changes in their health can alter everything seniors thought they knew about keeping a healthy smile. Implementing these six tips helps you keep your elderly loved one’s pearly whites as bright and healthy as possible as he or she gets older.

1. Make Sure to Brush Long Enough

The average person brushes his or her teeth for only a few seconds. Although any amount of brushing is better than not brushing at all, it takes a full two minutes to really do a good job. Try setting an alarm or playing a song to make sure your loved one brushes long enough to remove most of the food debris and bacteria from his or her mouth.

A professional caregiver can be a great asset for seniors who need help with everyday tasks like brushing and flossing their teeth. Families who need help caring for senior loved ones can turn to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of senior home care. Services available in our customizable care plans include meal prep, mental and social stimulation, assistance with personal hygiene tasks, and much more.

2. Keep Backup Oral Hygiene Supplies

Being sick can interfere with the ability to keep up with oral hygiene. During a time of illness, your loved one might need someone to bring a toothbrush to his or her bed along with supplies for rinsing and flossing. 

Running out of necessary supplies is also a concern if your loved one is too sick to go to the store. Keep extra supplies on hand for those times, and make sure you have an additional caregiver lined up who can help if your loved one falls ill.

3. Try Using Different Tools

Seniors might find it difficult to maintain good oral hygiene if they lose dexterity in their hands or wrists. If your loved one is experiencing this type of issue, suggest using an ergonomic toothbrush with a special handle that’s bent at an angle. Water flossers are another option that can eliminate having to wrap floss around the fingers.

4. Watch Out for Bad Habits

Changing habits can prevent a large amount of damage to the teeth. For example, quitting smoking restores blood flow to the gums and prevents nasty stains on the surface of tooth enamel. Drinking water to rinse away acidic beverages is another option that can reduce enamel erosion that contributes to cavities.

Maintaining a high quality of life can be challenging for some seniors, but professional caregivers can help them attain this goal. Families can trust Opelika home care service experts to help their elderly loved ones focus on lifestyle choices that increase the chances of living longer and healthier lives.

5. Take Care of Dry Mouth Issues

Seniors are more likely to experience problems with dry mouth. Certain medications can decrease saliva production. Your loved one might also have an autoimmune disorder that disrupts the flow of saliva. 

Some seniors use hard candies to stimulate saliva production. This can be effective, but it also increases the amount of sugar in the mouth. Choose sugar-free candies when possible, and talk to the dentist about special mouth rinses your loved one can use to rehydrate the soft tissues in the mouth.

6. Let the Hygienist Pick Up the Slack

Most people miss spots when they brush their teeth, and having difficulty with an oral hygiene routine increases the risk of plaque starting to accumulate. Make sure to mention any issues your loved one has with brushing his or her teeth to the dentist and hygienist. Knowing your loved one has difficulty hitting certain spots helps these professionals know where to focus their attention during routine cleanings and exams.

Oral health problems can lead to more serious issues for seniors. Living with serious health conditions can make it challenging for seniors to age in place. However, they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional live-in care. Opelika seniors can benefit from assistance with meal prep, bathing, transportation to the doctor’s office, medication reminders, and much more. Home Care Assistance can be your trusted partner in caregiving for your aging loved one. Contact one of our experienced Care Managers today at (334) 744-7100 to learn more about our reliable in-home care services. 


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