Nearly 26 million Americans have diabetes and the number continues to increase, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While many people understand the importance of a healthy diet and routine exercise regimen to help manage and control diabetes, many are unaware that oral health plays a huge role in helping to minimize some of the symptoms of the disease, promoting comfort and preventing further complications.
Seniors that suffer from diabetes may have dry mouth and are more prone than the general population to develop a fungal infection, called thrush. In addition to this, senior diabetics are at higher risk for tooth loss as a result of gum disease, and can contract other types of infections following dental procedures more easily. At Home Care Assistance of Westfield, we strongly believe that enhancing the oral care regimen can assist in the prevention or delay of these problems.
- Keeping the Mouth Moist – A dry mouth is not only uncomfortable, but can also lead to cavities. The American Diabetes Association recommends increasing the amount of fluid intake and chewing sugar free gum or sucking on sugar free hard candy to stimulate saliva secretion. There are also several products available on the market that can be used to remedy a dry mouth by either helping to enhance saliva production or mimicking the action of saliva.
- Routine Oral Care – Routine brushing and flossing is essential for oral health, especially if the senior has diabetes, but these should be done with care. Diabetics experience delayed healing and the type of toothbrush and manner of flossing can be a source of gum injury. An older adult with diabetes should select a soft bristle toothbrush and use caution when flossing to avoid harm to the gums. Those that wear dentures should ensure proper fit and clean them regularly. This can help prevent sores in the mouth and decreases the risk of infection.
- Regular Dental Checkups – Seeing a dentist every six months is crucial for seniors with diabetes. This alone is not enough though. It is important that the dentist is aware that the senior has this condition. This can allow the dentist to conduct a more thorough exam, exercise additional precaution to prevent complications and provide helpful tips.
If you or an aging parent or loved one has been diagnosed with diabetes and struggle with personal care activities such as brushing your teeth, consider help from a professional and compassionate caregiver. Caregivers can provide hourly home care in Westfield, assisting with morning and evening routines, and can also help with activities of daily living such as light housekeeping, cooking, and can even provide transportation to dentist and doctor appointments.
If you would like to learn more about the in-home care services offered nearest you, contact Home Care Assistance of Westfield at 908.450.9400 and speak with a Care Manager. We are the Westfield live-in care specialists and can help tailor a home care plan to enhance overall quality of life for you or an elderly loved one.