Learning how to help aging parents with their daily needs can a challenging experience, especially when it comes to medical needs, which often become quite complex during the senior years. An issue that is likely to need your immediate attention is oral health, since it often gets lost in the shuffle as aging parents juggle increasing numbers of appointments and medications, health screenings and treatments. While it may seem a lower priority than conditions like heart disease or diabetes, it really isn’t at all, since poor oral health can be an important contributing factor in the deterioration of overall health in seniors.
Helping Aging Parents with Oral Health
Many seniors discount changes in oral health as a routine part of the aging process, living with issues like mouth pain, tooth decay, missing teeth, signs of gum disease or ill fitting dentures or bridges with little concern, unaware of newer research on the health consequences of these conditions.
If you’ve been wondering how to help aging parents realize the importance of regular dental examinations and care, filling them in on these connections may be just the nudge they need to make oral health a priority.
What they – and you – need to know is that inflammation and infection caused by oral bacteria has been linked with cardiovascular disease, arterial sclerosis and stroke, and periodontal disease has been shown to make the control of blood glucose levels more difficult in diabetics and contribute to osteoporosis. Dental deterioration can also lead to poor nutrition, as eating right can become difficult or painful. Nutritional deficits can weaken bones and muscles, impair the immune system and contribute to the development or worsening of an array of diseases and health conditions.
Poor Oral Health Emotional Risks
Poor oral health can also affect emotional health and impair social interaction. Missing or unsightly teeth or ill fitting dentures are embarrassing for most people, and those who feel self-conscious about their appearance tend to become reluctant to socialize. This is an issue of particular importance in seniors, given the prolific evidence linking an active social life with longer, healthier and happier lives.
Now that you know a bit about why it is so important, here are the basics you need to know about how to help aging parents take care of oral health. Aging increases risk of oral health issues, with factors like decreased saliva, worn teeth, weaker immune function, plaque accumulation, receding gums and many others making dental decay and gum disease or deterioration more likely. That means that regular dental examinations – at least once a year and preferably twice – are vital.
Missing or decaying teeth or ill fitting dentures should be attended to immediately to maintain healthy oral structure and function. For optimal oral function and the prevention of bone loss, dental implants should be the first choice for tooth replacement, whether it is one tooth or a mouthful that your aging parent needs. Implant based reconstruction offers replacement teeth that look, feel and function like natural teeth, offering seniors the ability to eat, speak and smile without limitation.
Help Aging Parents with Dental Implant Decisions
In most cases, dental implants will last a lifetime with proper care, eliminating the need to have dentures or bridges adjusted or replaced regularly. Not only will this reduce risk of future dental health problems, it will also mean a few less appointments to squeeze into an already busy schedule, and best of all, it will improve the quality of life and confidence of your aging parents.
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