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Oral Health Intervention Can Improve Senior Care

Oral Health Intervention Can Improve Senior Care

When it comes to senior dental care in Castle Rock, our team at Glow strives to provide our patients with the knowledge needed to enjoy healthy teeth well into their golden years. Unfortunately, many seniors mistakenly believe that reaching retirement means they no longer need to practice quality oral hygiene. Many people have grown up believing that as we age, our oral health naturally become worse, and that tooth loss is just part of growing older. In reality, our teeth can last a lifetime, but only if we take the time and effort to keep them safe from the effects of tooth decay and gum disease.

In the U.S., seniors don’t receive the kind of regular dental care they need to protect their oral health. Part of this is due to the fact that Medicare doesn’t cover even the most basic oral health needs. Since so many seniors rely on Medicare for their health insurance, this creates a gap where the services needed doesn’t match with those covered. This can lead many seniors to face serious oral health issues that often go unaddressed.

Of seniors over the age of 65, 93 percent suffer from cavities in their permanent teeth, while 18 percent suffer from untreated tooth decay, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Considering these numbers, it’s not surprising that seniors over 65 average 9.24 decayed or missing permanent teeth.

While numbers are certainly a cause for concern, a recent study offers some positive news regarding the state of senior oral health. In fact, according to the study published in the journal Age and Aging, improving senior oral health may be simply a matter of providing a gentle reminder.

Reminding Seniors About the Importance of Oral Health

According to researchers, targeted preventive oral health intervention significantly improved the cleanliness of dentures and teeth among elderly home care clients. Additionally, cognitive function and functional ability were strongly linked with improved oral hygiene, finds the results of a study conducted by researchers at the University of Eastern Finland.

The study was initially started in 2013, and focused on a six-month oral health and nutrition intervention among home care clients over the age of 75.

Researchers conducted an interview and an oral exam for each of the study’s 151 participants placed in the intervention group and for the 118 participants placed in the control group. The mean age of participants in the intervention group was 84, while the average age was 85 in the control group.

The intervention group received individually tailored instruction on denture care and oral hygiene. They were advised to brush at least twice a day with toothpaste containing fluoride, and to clean interdental spaces, dentures, and their tongue. Both groups were then reexamined after six months. The intervention group significantly reduced the presence of plaque in their mouths and improved denture hygiene. The decrease in the presence of plaque was linked with functional ability and cognitive function. However, despite of the improved oral health, almost 50 percent of the teeth in the intervention group suffered from plaque buildup even following the instruction. In the control group, oral health habits deteriorated during the six-month follow up exam.

The Importance of Senior Oral Health

The reason senior dental care in Castle Rock and across the U.S. matters is due to the fact that a senior’s oral health greatly impacts his or her quality of life, nutrition, and overall health. A decline in cognitive and functional ability increases senior dependency and the potential for further compromised daily oral hygiene. Instead of ignoring the oral health needs of seniors, family and caregivers should make encouraging and reminding their loved ones of the importance of practicing quality oral hygiene part of the support they provide. A healthy life needs a healthy mouth.

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