Apr 20, 2018 by Katie Fielmann
April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month. While this may not be one of the better known thematic months, it is most certainly one of the most important for seniors. The April, Comfort Keepers care services would like the encourage seniors and their families to learn more about oral cancer and the benefits of in-home care services for seniors who need support with personal care including oral hygiene support.
Most people understand that a senior's body changes with age. Muscle mass and bone density are lost, eyesight tends to fade, and gravity does its dirty work. What many people forget about are the myriad changes that happen within the mouth. As we age, the body often produces less saliva. This not only makes it harder to eat and swallow food, but it also makes it more difficult for seniors to keep their teeth clean and avoid dental problems. As a result, many seniors suffer from darkened teeth, lost teeth, dry mouth, gum disease, root decay, and even oral cancer.
The good news is that there are ways to prevent oral hygiene issues and decrease the risk of oral cancer. The most common preventative measures include regular brushing and flossing. With seniors, a pre and post-brushing rinse is suggested to help loosen plaque and prevent decay. There are also solutions that help with dry mouth. Adaptive devices and special handles are available for seniors who have trouble with standard toothbrushes or floss. Home care service providers can help with seniors who need additional help due to pain, lack of mobility, dementia, or other issues that limit their ability to perform their own oral hygiene care.
It is common for seniors to experience minor mouth pain, but there are some things that may point to a serious condition. Signs that should be checked out by a professional include difficulty chewing or swallowing; lumps, sores, or irritation of the mouth, lip, or throat; and swelling of the jaw or mouth.
The best way to avoid dental problems, including oral cancer, is by keeping up with regular dental checkups and cleanings. Sadly, many seniors do not have dental insurance so regular check-ups stop once they leave the workforce.
If your senior loved one has not had a dental checkup in some time, encourage them to do so this April.
For more information about oral hygiene, oral cancer, or the many ways Comfort Keepers care services can help your senior loved one maximize their freedom and independence, contact a senior care coordinator today.
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