By the time you have reached your seventies, your teeth are tired. Even if you’ve always practiced good oral care, your teeth and gums have gone through a lifetime of use, which inevitably leads to some deterioriation.
Teeth can withstand this wear and tear if they have received proper care and treatment throughout their life, but for the generation currently in the 65-85 age range, their teeth likely didn’t receive the best attention. These people grew up in a time where teeth were not attended to as much as they are today, dentistry was not as advanced, and affording dentistry was a difficulty. Due to the lack of access to good dental care, many older adults suffer from numerous oral health problems.
These issues often cause them pain and irritation in their day-to-day life. Many seniors are unable to chew foods that they used to eat with ease, and many suffer other restrictions because of dentures.
The sad truth, however, is that once the elderly enter into nursing homes, their teeth become even more neglected. The New York Times even wrote an in-depth article relaying the horrors of dentistry in nursing homes. Because nursing home caretakers have many patients to look after and more urgent health problems normally take precedence, oral health often falls by the wayside.
Teeth are routinely left unbrushed and dental problems are neglected until they become so serious they can no longer be ignored. Some residents have had such severe oral issues that they have resulted in problems with eating.
The best way to combat this is to advocate for your loved ones in nursing homes. If they can leave for the day, take them to lunch and to a dentist appointment afterward. Schedule regular dental appointments for them and keep track of what is happing with their oral health as well as their overall health. Also, try to cultivate a relationship with one of their regular caretakers who can account for their brushing needs.
So, if your parents or grandparents are in a nursing home, add oral health to your list of things you check up on. It’s another way to help them keep smiling.