Because oral health care is often overlooked in older adults, scheduling a visit from Mindy of In Home Dental Hygiene Services can ensure older adults have access to oral care that reduces their risk of disease.
Increased Risk for Disease
- Poor oral health can contribute to poor eating habits in the elderly, reducing vital nutrition for overall health. Periodontal Disease, loose painful teeth or ill-fitting dentures may result in a reduced desire or ability to eat. A compromised nutritional status weakens the immune system increasing the risk of disease.
- Many older adults require medication that often increases the risk of a dry mouth. Saliva protects the teeth from decay and helps prevent oral infections. If left untreated, chronic dry mouth can lead to gum disease and cavities, affecting the ability to eat or drink comfortably.
Why Oral Care is Especially Important for the Elderly
by Mindy Voigt, RDHAP
Here are a few reasons why oral health should be of particular importance for the elderly...
Infections Can Be Deadly
- Oral infections that can lead to trouble such as decay and gum disease, can also lead to more serious infections in the lungs, such as Pneumonia, or Heart Disease.
- Pneumonia infections account for approximately half of all infections in nursing homes and are the leading cause of death from infection in older adults.
- Aspiration pneumonia originates from the oral cavity. Research shows our elder population experiencing functional decline, such as cognitive impairment, stroke, and compromised swallowing ability, can minimize the risk of this infection significantly with professional oral care.
- Chemotherapy: Drugs to treat cancer can make saliva thicker causing the mouth to feel dry.
- Nerve Damage: Injury to the head and neck can damage nerves that communicate with salivary gland production.
- Disease: Some diseases effect glands such as Diabetes and Sjögren’s syndrome.
Dry mouth treatment will depend on what is causing the symptoms. Your physician, dentist, or dental hygienist can help you determine what is causing your dry mouth.
Tips for Dry Mouth
- Sip water often, especially with meals, as this will help make chewing and swallowing easier.
- Chew sugarless gum to help stimulate salivary glands. Products that contain xylitol may help prevent cavities.
- Avoid caffeine, tobacco and alcohol as it can further dry the mouth out.
Visit your Dentist and Dental Hygienist, at least twice yearly, for comprehensive care and prevention of disease caused by Dry Mouth syndrome.
by Mindy Voigt, RDHAP
Without enough saliva your risk of dental disease such as decay and periodontal disease is significantly increased.
We often get dry mouth when our salivary glands are not working properly.
Saliva is very important to our overall health.
Some common causes of dry mouth include:
- Medication: Hundreds of commonly prescribed medications can cause dry mouth. For example, medication for blood pressure, allergy and depression.
- Radiation therapy: Salivary glands can be damaged if they are exposed to radiation during cancer treatment.
By continuing professional oral care, we can minimize infection, decay, and discomfort. While many things have changed, one thing has remained the same: my commitment to safely care for my patients.
Infection control has always been a top priority for my practice. I wanted you to know that I follow infection control recommendations by the American Dental Association (ADA), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Some new additions to appointments include:
- Treatment is provided in an area that assures “safe distancing”.
- I will be following the recommended protocol upon entering each location including documenting my temperature and handwashing. Hand Sanitizer will be also used as needed. I have always used single-use/disposable products for each appointment, except for instruments that are sterile packed and only opened at the beginning of the appointment.
- I have fulfilled all the guidelines for personal protective equipment (PPE).
- I am vaccinated for COVID-19 and have followed up with the boosters.
In Home Dental Hygiene Services has always been a safe and convenient way to provide essential oral health care to individuals that are homebound or have limited access to a traditional dental office setting. This service limits exposure to public spaces, significantly impacts overall health, promotes general wellbeing and comfort.
Oral care is a serious concern in communities all over the United States, and poor oral health can cause diseases that are considered deadly for the elderly and those with weakened immune systems. Inadequate oral hygiene increases inter-bacterial exchanges between the lungs and mouth, increasing the risk of respiratory infections and potentially post-viral bacterial complications such as pneumonia and sepsis.
COVID-19 & Infection Control
by Mindy Voigt, RDHAP
Articles & Resources:
Creating a Soothing Environment for the Dementia Patient
by Mindy Voigt, RDHAP
It is important to create a soothing environment to help reduce agitation and challenging behavior when caring for someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s. Listed below are common influencers of that environment.
Sound levels can have a significant impact. It is important to decrease unnecessary noise whether it is within the home or outdoors.
Consideration of room location, soft furnishings and adjusting windows to be open or closed can help. While it is necessary to manage sound …
Complete quite can also be stressful with someone with dementia. It is recognized that playing soft, familiar music or a favorite radio station is ideal.
People with dementia are often older and experience diminishing eyesight. A well-lit room is key. Placement of lamps and overhead fixtures should minimize shadowing that can cause anxiety. Use natural lighting whenever possible, as it is often the most relaxing.
When choosing colors, contrasting the color of the walls and floor can be helpful to lessen confusion and falls. Mirrors should be removed when possible. Reflections in mirrors/glass can be misinterpreted by someone with dementia that they are being watched by a stranger. Close curtains at night.
Make things easy to find. Create a quite space away from others for soothing activities such as listening to music, art projects, or sitting with a favorite pet.
In Home Care
In Home Dental Hygiene Services is a wonderful opportunity to provide essential oral health care, reducing the risk of complications associated with decay and periodontal disease, and ease the challenges of traveling to a dental office.