Three Signs Your Elderly Loved One Needs To See The Dentist

Dental problems like cavities, dry mouth and gum disease are quite common in the elderly. Unfortunately, these conditions are often allowed to worsen before they are finally treated, since many older adults don't seek dental care at the first signs of symptoms. If you have an elderly person in your life, it's important to ensure they see the dentist for regular cleanings and checkups. You should also keep an eye out for the following signs which indicate they need to see a dentist to address a developing issue.

Avoiding foods they used to enjoy.

If your loved one suddenly stops eating foods that he or she once enjoyed, this could be a sign of dental problems. Your loved one might avoid hot or cold foods due to sensitivity that is caused by exposed tooth roots or tooth decay. They might also avoid hard or crunchy foods because they cause pain in teeth that have begun to decay. Keep a close eye on your loved one's food preferences, and if you notice any major changes, ask them about it. Your loved one might admit they're struggling with dental pain, or they might give you another explanation that makes sense. (Maybe they're taking a new medication and can't eat that food now, for example.) If they deny that anything is wrong but still avoid certain foods, you should strongly suggest seeing the dentist – they might be hiding a problem from you due to fear or embarrassment.

Bad breath.

If you notice that your loved one's breath is always smelly, you should do two things. First, try reminding your loved one to brush his or her teeth more often. You might want to buy them an antiseptic dental rinse to use, too. Then, schedule an appointment with the dentist. Bad breath can be a sign of gum disease, tooth decay, or dry mouth – all of which need to be addressed. Even if the bad breath is just because your loved one has not been brushing regularly, it's best to see the dentist to check whether that lack of oral hygiene has affected the teeth.

Always sipping water or complaining of a dry mouth.

Dry mouth is a common issue in the elderly since it is a side effect of many medications for high blood pressure, depression, asthma, and other conditions. Dry mouth is not just an annoyance. It can lead to extensive cavities, gum disease and tooth loss since it allows oral bacteria to thrive. If you notice that your loved one is always sipping water, complaining that their mouth feels dry, or is taking a medication that lists dry mouth as a side effect, it's time to see the dentist. He or she can recommend a medication or oral gel to increase saliva production and prevent future issues.

Contact your local family dentist (like Barry Groder DDS or other offices) for more help and information.