There are millions of bacteria naturally present within the mouth of an average adult. While some of these microorganisms can be beneficial, most are considered harmful to dental health and should be kept under control.
Because of this, oral health contributes greatly to our overall well-being. Hence, it is essential for our parents or grandparents to prioritize dental care as much as possible to help prevent any long-term oral health issues.
Aside from minimizing health complications, good oral hygiene also helps keep other systemic diseases at bay and allows you to preserve your teeth and gums, which becomes more important as we get older. Additionally, the confidence boost and reduced healthcare costs you can receive from taking good care of your oral health are also some compelling reasons older adults should pay more attention to their oral health.
The government of Ontario supports good dental hygiene in older Canadians, and in support of it, have introduced the Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program (OSDCP) to subsidize the cost of oral care and make dentist visits more affordable. You can also read more about dental coverage for older adults in Ontario, Canada at the provided link.
In this article, however, we’ll find answers to the question “why is oral health important to older adults?” while also highlighting the benefits of good dental hygiene.
The Importance of Oral Care
Anyone can potentially develop dental complications during their lifetime, but the chances increase as we grow older. Complete or partial teeth loss is common among older adults, so you should ensure your parents or grandparents take the necessary steps to maintain an excellent oral health to minimize any changes that affect their quality of life.
Furthermore, scientific research has found a relationship between poor oral hygiene and health issues like diabetes and heart disease. The study explains that a failure to care for your mouth and teeth can have a negative impact on the cardiovascular health of older adults.
Older people should engage in good oral practices such as brushing twice daily with fluoride toothpaste and daily flossing to remove debris between the teeth. Meanwhile, they should also cut back on their sugar intake, as it is one of the leading causes of tooth decay. It is advised to restrict sugar consumption to mealtimes only.
Similar to dental floss, special toothbrushes called interdental brushes can help your loved ones improve interdental cleaning in their mouth. This item will help them prevent plaque buildup between the teeth, reducing the risk of decay and gum issues. Electric oral irrigation is also suitable for removing particles lodged between the teeth, especially after eating.
Practicing good oral hygiene may be a bit challenging for people with mobility issues or poor fine motor skills — difficulty holding a toothbrush properly or performing toothbrushing movements — resulting in poor dental health. Fortunately, an electric toothbrush can help overcome this challenge by removing dirt from the teeth with minimal effort.
Furthermore, older adults may be on one or more medications, and these drugs could leave certain side effects in the mouth. For example, a person with high blood pressure may require a medication of calcium channel blockers, which can stimulate gum overgrowth, causing difficulty in cleaning the gums. However, practicing good mouth cleaning should help tackle this issue.
In essence, it is crucial that your parents or grandparents pay attention to their oral health as they grow older due to its impact on their overall well-being. So, why is oral health important for older adults? We have our answers.
5 Amazing Benefits of Good Oral Hygiene for Older Adults
Oral hygiene refers to the practice of keeping the mouth clean and germ-free. Below are the advantages of good dental care for older adults.
1. Healthier Gums
Healthier gums is one of the most significant benefits of good dental hygiene. The oral cavity is home to numerous bacteria species. Some of these bacteria are beneficial, as they help with food digestion and other metabolic processes. Meanwhile, others are potentially harmful.
Brushing and flossing regularly helps your older loved ones maintain a healthy balance in their mouth by reducing the population of harmful bacteria and removing food particles. Neglecting the oral health can cause an unchecked growth of toxic bacteria, leading to plaque formation on the teeth. Plaque buildup can result in gum inflammation, increasing the risk of gum disease.
2. Decreased Risk of Heart Attack
Microorganisms don’t always stay in the mouth. They can also travel through the bloodstream to different parts of the body. If harmful bacteria reach the heart and surrounding vessels, they can cause vital arteries to constrict, increasing the risk of a heart attack.
So, if your parents or grandparents can maintain good oral health, they will be less prone to a heart attack. This is one of the brushing teeth benefits that many are not aware of.
3. High Self-Esteem
It is pretty amazing how significantly a beautiful smile can boost your older relative’s self-esteem. And self-confidence, in turn, will be helpful in developing various aspects of their life, such as relationships, friendships, learning, and so on.
Simply brushing twice and flossing every day can help maintain the teeth’s brightness and freshness. With good oral hygiene, your parents or grandparents can flash a warm, toothy smile whenever they wish.
4. Fresh Breath
One of the benefits of dental hygiene in older people is fresh breath. Bad breath, medically known as halitosis, is often caused by bacteria and plaque buildup in the mouth, and it can be prevented by practicing good oral hygiene practices.
Of course, having a fresh breath will further improve your loved one’s self-esteem and other aspects of their social life.
5. Reduced Healthcare Costs
Since the costs of filling tooth cavities, replacing the teeth with full or partial dentures, or managing a serious mouth condition will be absent, your parents or grandparents can save healthcare costs in the long run with good oral hygiene.
Why is oral health important in older people? Several reasons as provided in this piece. There is no understating the significance of maintaining good dental hygiene in older adults as it will help them lead healthier and happier lives.
So, you should always encourage your parents or grandparents to take care of their mouth and teeth to enjoy all of the aforementioned benefits.