Diabetes is one of the most common chronic conditions for seniors today. This life-long condition can cause a series of complications in different areas and degrees, including oral health issues like gum disease, tooth decay, altered taste sensations, fungal infections, dry mouth, and more.
How Does Diabetes Affect Oral Health?
Diabetes causes an increase in levels of glucose, which is a major factor behind high occurrences of plaque build-up on the teeth and gums. Plaque build-up impedes normal mouth function and often causes dental diseases such as periodontitis and gingivitis, both of which are progressive conditions without proper care.
Diabetics also encounter more cavities due to their decreased production of saliva, thinned enamel caused by dehydration-related problems, increased likelihood for yeast infections in the tongue (candidiasis) due to higher sugar content from sugar consumption, and even tooth loss. All these factors lead to poor oral hygiene among seniors with diabetes. It also increases the risk of further health complications making it especially important to maintain regular visits to the dentist.
How Caretakers Can Provide Supportive Care for Diabetics
Diabetics rely on supportive caretakers to help them stay healthy and keep their oral hygiene in check. Below are a few effective tips that caregivers can use to provide better support for diabetics:
Regular Dental Visits
Caregivers should make sure that their senior visits the dentist regularly. The visit cadence should depend on the severity of dental issues the senior may have, but at least twice annually or according to the dentist's recommendation.
Proper Oral Hygiene Practices
Supporting regular brushing two times daily and flossing once daily with fluoride toothpaste is critical for diabetics. These habits help reduce plaque accumulation, aid gum health and prevent cavities from developing. Caregivers should ensure the senior follows these habits to maintain good oral hygiene.
Diet and Nutrition
Aside from the benefit to a senior's overall health, eating foods low in sugar will also help prevent dry mouth caused by diabetes. High glucose levels also interfere with saliva production leading to poor nutrition. Caregivers must help seniors living with diabetes maintain a healthy diet, made up of meals with a balanced mix of carbohydrates, protein, fat, and vitamins.
Consistent mental stress weakens the immune system, making a senior more prone to specific infections that impact the teeth. Additionally, stress can lead to grinding and clenching of the jaw, which can degrade teeth over time. Help the senior reduce his or her cortisol levels by incorporating relaxing activities into the daily routine. These can include meditation, deep breathing, light exercise, journaling, or talk therapy.
Senior Helpers Broward County is Here For Your Elderly Loved One
Good oral hygiene is essential for people with diabetes, as it can prevent further medical complications and ensure better overall health. Caretakers play a central role in keeping seniors' teeth healthy by organizing regular visits to the dentist and encouraging them to brush twice daily, eat low-sugar diets, and manage stress levels. Following these steps helps protect seniors in Hollywood, Fort Lauderdale, and Broward County against dental illnesses while also contributing to their overall well-being. For more information on how Senior Helpers Broward County can help you or your senior loved one, contact us today.