Community Blog

Understanding the Importance of Good Dental Hygiene for Your Elderly Parent

By Erin Carll

Elderly Care in Sewickley PA


There are things that you do every day to take care of yourself that you may take for granted. They are simply part of your routine and you may not even think about them beyond just getting them done. For your elderly parent, however, these personal care tasks may not be as easy and they may start to overlook them. One such task is taking care of their oral health.

Oral hygiene is about more than just making sure that your breath smells good and your smile is bright and appealing. The value of dental hygiene impacts the entire body, making it something that your parent needs to keep up regularly in order for them to live their healthiest, most comfortable quality of life as they age in place.

Some of the risks of not maintaining good dental hygiene include:

  • Increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Bacteria flourishes inside the mouth. While there is good bacteria that helps keep the body healthy, there can also be bad bacteria from tooth decay, periodontal disease, and gum inflammation. When this bacteria moves into the blood stream it can lead to inflammation and infection in the lining of the heart, as well as hardening of the arteries. These issues bring with them the increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
  • Increased risk of dementia. The bad bacteria that can build up in the mouth may also move through the bloodstream or nerve channels into the brain. There are indications that this can then cause damage to the brain that can contribute to the development of dementia, including Alzheimer's disease.
  • More frequent respiratory infections. When your parent breathes through their mouth they draw bacteria down through their respiratory system into their lungs. This can cause infections, including pneumonia. The risk of these infections is particularly high among elderly adults due to the tendency for seniors to have suppressed immune systems. This suppression makes them more vulnerable to infections and makes it more difficult for their bodies to fight infections. It also makes it more likely that if your aging parent has an infection they will get another illness or infection in addition to it due to the further suppression of their immune system caused by the current infection.

If you are concerned that your parent is not getting the proper dental hygiene, elderly care can help. An elderly home care services provider can be with your loved one whenever it is right for them. They evaluate your parent's needs and create a customized approach to care designed to ensure your parent gets the care, assistance, and support that they need while also encouraging independence, activity, and rounded wellbeing. They can help your parent to understand their need for proper dental hygiene, modify the task to allow them to stay as involved in their own personal care as possible, or provide direct assistance to handle brushing, flossing, or denture care as needed. This will help your parent to stay healthier and more comfortable while also supporting better mental and emotional health.

http://www.colgate.com/en/us/oc/oral-health/conditions/gum-disease/article/how-poor-dental-care-can-affect-your-overall-health-0313

If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring elderly care in Sewickley, PA, please call the caring staff at Home Helpers. Call today (412) 201-0712.