Why Oral Hygiene Is Critical for Diabetics (And How to Provide Supportive Care)
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Why Oral Hygiene Is Critical for Diabetics (And How to Provide Supportive Care)

Everyday habits for promoting and maintaining strong oral hygiene become even more critical for seniors with diabetes for many reasons. This includes their higher risk of experiencing various dental issues such as gum disease, dry mouth, and tooth decay. This blog will look at the impact of diabetes on the teeth, gums, and mouth and suggest measures your elderly loved ones can take to protect their oral health. 

How Does Diabetes Affect Oral Health?

Diabetes and oral health are more closely related than you might think. The disease can increase the growth of bacteria and plaque buildup around the gums and teeth. And it can also decrease their body’s ability for wounds to heal. 

These issues directly affect the strength and stability of your tooth enamel. If your enamel decays, it can increase the chance of cavities, gum disease, fungal infections (like thrush), and other problems that affect comfort when eating or speaking. Other impacts include:

  • Dry mouth due to reduced saliva flow
  • A distorted sense of taste
  • Difficulty with denture fit or movement
  • Receding gums that expose root surfaces, causing discomfort while brushing or flossing and even possible change in jawbone integrity

How Can Seniors Promote Good Oral Health?

There are several steps seniors could take to promote oral health. Effective brushing is the most crucial step in maintaining good oral hygiene. For good dental health, they should brush their teeth twice daily with fluoride toothpaste, floss once daily, and use an antibacterial mouthwash regularly. They should also:

  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day
  • Cut back on snack foods (sugary foods can lead to cavities) 
  • Chew sugarless gum or suck on sugar-free hard candy/mint to stimulate saliva production
  • Avoid acidic drinks like fruit juices or citrus beverages, as these can erode tooth enamel over time 

Regular dental visits also go a long way in helping seniors take better care of their mouths. They could ask their dentist about specific products designed for diabetics. And they could also ask about which oral products are more comfortable to use to help their oral care be as comfortable as possible. In-home senior care staff can provide extra support during these appointments if needed. In addition to that, nutrition and diet also play an essential role in oral health. Eating a balanced diet low in sugar is vital for promoting good dental hygiene. 

If your elderly loved one is struggling to keep up with their oral maintenance, making a routine for them to follow every day can help. The more they follow this routine, the more it becomes ingrained in their everyday activities. You can also help them set reminders, in the beginning, to help lessen the chances of them forgetting or neglecting it. 

Need Help Maintaining Good Oral Health at Home?

Good oral health goes a long way in helping those with diabetes manage their disease. By following the steps outlined above and seeking assistance from in-home senior care providers, seniors living with diabetes can maintain optimal dental hygiene and protect their teeth from complications associated with the disease. If you are looking for support managing your or a loved one's oral hygiene routines in Santa Rosa, Ukiah, Sebastopol, or Rohnert Park, contact Senior Helpers Santa Rosa Wine Country to learn how we can help!