Commonly Asked Questions About Oral Hygiene at Peristyle Residences
Poor oral hygiene is one of the most common unnoticed health conditions among senior citizens. Memory loss, Parkinson’s, and other age-related conditions make it challenging for seniors to brush their teeth, floss, and take care of their oral hygiene. Below are common oral hygiene questions our clients ask and how they can be prevented or managed.
We encourage all residents to visit the dentist twice per year. We encourage families to make dental arrangements for their loved one.
Gum or periodontal disease is a gum infection that damages soft tissue around the teeth. It is caused by bacteria accumulating in the mouth and forming a sticky plaque that adheres to the teeth. Gum disease can lead to tooth loss and other serious health problems if left untreated. Seniors are prone to gum disease due to poor brushing and improper techniques, which is why our caregivers are diligent about helping our residents brush twice daily.
Root decay is a severe dental problem that can occur when the root of a tooth becomes infected. It is caused by bacteria that break down the tooth’s enamel, leading to pain, sensitivity, and discoloration. Left untreated, root decay can cause severe damage to the teeth and gums and may even require surgery to repair. At Peristyle, we help our residents brush their teeth twice daily, floss, and cut back on sugary foods to prevent root decay.
Seniors can develop a build-up of Candida, a type of fungus or yeast, in their mouths, causing an infection. Denture stomatitis, also known as thrush, occurs when the mouth swells and becomes red, sore, cracks, and irritated. Seniors are prone to stomatitis if they wear their dentures for long periods without taking them out and cleaning them, such as multiple nights in a row while sleeping. Our caregivers ensure each resident removes their dentures before bedtime and puts them in a cleaning solution.
Mouth or oral cancer can occur in several ways and on various mouth regions, including lips, gums, jaw, and tongue. As people age, their risk of developing oral cancer increases significantly due to the cumulative effects of lifestyle choices and environmental factors such as diet, smoking, and alcohol use. All of our residents are visited by a dentist annually for early oral cancer detection and proper treatment, if necessary.
According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, nearly 17% of seniors 65 years and older have no remaining teeth. Seniors who experience tooth loss may find eating hard or chewy food challenging. They may also experience social isolation due to embarrassment or discomfort associated with their condition. Our caregivers consult with the dentist about the oral health condition of each resident. Based on the dentist’s feedback, we may adjust a resident’s diet to prevent tooth loss.
Many seniors experience diminished saliva production, causing oral dryness. Various factors, including certain medications, dehydration, chemotherapy treatments, and radiation therapy, can cause lead to oral dryness. Xerostomia can increase the risk of dental problems such as tooth decay and gum disease. It can also cause difficulty speaking and swallowing food. If a patient is experiencing xerostomia, our caregivers will ensure they are adequately hydrated, avoid caffeine and alcohol, and provide saliva substitutes, if prescribed by their dentist.