How poor oral health links to other diseases (and why a carer could help prevent it)
It’s not commonly known, but poor oral health is linked to a number of medical conditions. That’s why maintaining good tooth brushing and mouth cleaning practices is crucial. And it’s also why it becomes even more important as you head into your later years.
Unfortunately, though, as we age, memory and motor skills tend to worsen, which can make good oral hygiene a challenge for a number of reasons.
The importance of good oral health
From chronic inflammation to coronary heart disease, muscle loss to tooth loss, the bacteria in our mouths can cause all sorts of issues if left unchecked.
While previously periodontal diseases, dental plaque and oral cavities were thought to simply cause bad breath and pain, medics have now found evidence that oral disease contributes to a host of other issues throughout the body.
As with many other parts of our body, bacteria is present in the mouth. But that in itself isn’t an issue. The problem comes when these oral bacteria multiply and get taken down into the respiratory tract or the esophagus – both of which can be entered from the throat. From here they can multiply and cause many different problems, from respiratory diseases to cardiovascular disease and even some forms of cancer.
Interestingly, a dental health professional can tell a lot about a person’s overall health by examining their mouth. Oral inflammation, dry mouth, loose teeth and severe gum disease are all risk factors for autoimmune diseases and other chronic conditions such as diabetes. All can have an impact on life expectancy. And all warrant further investigation.
The good news is that with regular tooth brushing, flossing and timely dental treatment, the risks are very much reduced. Making it important to keep up with oral health care throughout our lives and particularly as we age.
Why oral health can suffer as we age
There are a number of reasons why oral health can deteriorate when we become ill or as we age.
In general, it’s common to deprioritise personal hygiene tasks when we’re lacking in energy or feeling low. And unfortunately dental hygiene goes along with this. It might simply be that you’re too tired to motivate yourself to carry out the necessary tasks. Or it might be because you feel too unwell to carry out any activities that aren’t absolutely crucial.
For some people as they age, motor skills can present a challenge, while for others, cleaning their teeth morning and night might simply slip their memory. Particularly if they are living with dementia.
And as for accessing dental services and keeping on top of check-ups, cleaning and other necessary appointments? That can often become extremely difficult both in terms of organising an appointment in the first place and working out how to get there safely.
How a live-in carer could help
A live-in carer can support you with your oral hygiene and ensure that you maintain healthy teeth and gums, thus reducing your risk of oral infection, dental disease and associated further problems.
Part of your carers’ role is to help you to keep up with your everyday routines. And to help you navigate any hobbies and activities necessary. This includes personal care such as washing and bathing if you’re not able to do this safely and effectively by yourself.
Your carer will be able to prompt you to clean your teeth if you are worried you might forget. And because we’re CQC registered and all our carers are fully trained, they can even do the brushing for you if you find it difficult.
If you wear dentures, our carers will be able to help you look after them and keep your mouth clean, fresh and healthy too.
And when it comes to those regular check-ups at the dentist and dental hygienist, your live-in carer can help you to keep track and book any necessary appointments. And they can even make sure you get there on the day.
By paying close attention during mealtimes, our carers will often be able to notice any associated problems that crop up over time. This might be sensitive teeth, mouth ulcers or even swallowing issues. Once spotted, we can make sure these things can be checked out and treated by the appropriate dental or care teams, so they won’t lead to further, or larger, issues with your health.
It’s oral health day on 20th March– you can find more information as well as tips and ideas for a healthy mouth here.