Dental Care for Elderly and Disabled Persons

Are you caring for an elderly or disabled person? You might be feeling overwhelmed by the tasks to perform every day. Unfortunately, many caregivers minimize the importance of elderly-woman-dentist-e1306503787961-300x225dental care for elderly and disabled loved ones. This can be dangerous in several ways.

I understand completely that you might need to find some shortcuts in your day, and that dental care might seem like the least important part of caring for your loved one. Yet, dental care might be more important than you realize.

The minimum in daily dental care for elderly and disabled persons is to help them keep their mouth clean and to help with this task if they cannot do it themselves. Also, take them to the dentist regularly. Brushing, flossing, and rinsing the mouth can be difficult for some people. It is not uncommon to find that a dementia patient forgot how to brush.

Why is this so important? The first and most important reason is that bacteria from the mouth can easily be ingested or inhaled. When the bacteria are inhaled, there is great risk of it developing into pneumonia.

The second reason dental care is so important for elderly and disabled persons is that their nutrition is tied to their ability to eat. Failure to clean and protect the teeth can lead to broken, loose, or lost teeth. You will want to pay careful attention to any changes in what they do or do not eat and to how much they eat. This will help you to notice any emergent problems with their teeth.

The third reason dental care is so important is that many elderly and disabled persons take medicine, which can cause or promote dry mouth. This condition can be very damaging to the teeth and gums. Some loved ones are not able to drink water as often as they should to keep the mouth clean. This allows food, drinks, and medication to harm the mouth.

Elderly and disabled persons in your care need to see a dentist regularly to provide a thorough cleaning and evaluation. Often, your dentist will be able to identify problems that are starting long before you will notice it. While you are visiting your loved one’s dentist, you might want to talk with both the dentist and the hygienist about how you can help to protect your loved one on a daily basis.

Finally, if the loved one you are caring for has dentures or a partial denture, clean them daily and remove them for at least 4 hours each day. If they become loose or painful, contact your dentist. There are things we can do to make them more comfortable.

There are products that help to care for the oral health of your loved one. These range from special mouth rinses to swabs that moisturize the mouth, to a number of other specialized products. But before you start buying everything your pharmacy or home health supply company has to offer, discuss your loved one’s specific needs with your dentist. Not only can we help you choose the right products for his or her needs, we can help you sort through the available array of products and choose the best product for your needs and your budget. A hygienist can also show you some techniques to help you brush your loved one’s teeth and otherwise care for their oral health needs. A dentist is here to help you.

We are located in Salem, Virginia. When you come to us with a dental problem, we do not judge, we do not chastise. We can help you. We just do everything we can to help. We understand the challenges and the schedule of caring for an elderly or disabled loved one.