As people age, certain daily activities of living can become more difficult than they were in the past. One task that can be hard is brushing teeth. Arthritic hands with poor grip and hands that tremble can make holding a toothbrush or putting toothpaste on it hard to do. However, good oral health is important no matter what a person’s age is. In fact, a new study shows there is a link between oral health and blood pressure.
How Oral Health Impacts Blood Pressure
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around one-fifth of people aged 65 and older suffers from gum disease. Researchers from the University College London Eastman Dental Institute in the United Kingdom wanted to know how severe gum disease might affect blood pressure. To find out, they reviewed information gathered during 81 previous studies.
The results of the study showed that individuals who had moderate to severe gum disease had a 22 percent higher risk of having high blood pressure. The scientists think that inflammation may be the culprit. They speculate that the bacteria involved in gum disease could trigger an inflammatory response and the inflammation might then lead to high blood pressure.
Other Reasons to Improve Oral Health in Seniors
Reducing the chances of high blood pressure isn’t the only reason for older adults to maintain good oral health. There are several other ways that poor oral health can affect quality of life and health, such as:
Self-esteem: Having bad breath and teeth that are in bad shape can affect the way an older adult sees themselves. They may be reluctant to interact with others, which may leave them feeling lonely.
Eating: Tooth decay and gum disease can be painful, which may affect the senior’s ability to eat. Avoiding eating certain foods can limit the vitamins and minerals the older adult is getting, which can negatively affect their overall health.
Pain: Being in pain is no fun for people of any age. The pain of poor oral health can make the older adult irritable and miserable.
Elderly care providers can help older adults to continue taking good care of their teeth and gums. An elderly care provider can assist with every step of the process, from helping the older adult to put toothpaste on the brush to filling a cup to rinse from. If your aging relative wears dentures, an elderly care provider can help them to keep their dentures clean and also to care for their gums. Finally, elderly care providers can drive seniors to their dental appointments, so they can continue receiving regular checkups.