One of the great blessings of the holidays is getting to see so much of our extended family that we don’t normally see. With children, the results are often delightful. Nieces, nephews, and cousins have all matured dramatically over the last year or more. They have new skills and talents, and they’re becoming wonderful little people on their own.
With older relatives, the results are often not as pretty. They may be looking much older than they did the last time you saw them, and definitely much older than your memory, where they’re still the towering figure from your childhood. You might also notice that some of your older relatives have developed really poor oral health, something that’s becoming increasingly common. Although it might seem impolite, it’s actually important that you talk to these relatives about their oral health.
They Might Not Know
As impossible as it seems, your relative might not actually know that they have poor oral health. They might not be performing their oral hygiene as recommended, which means they might not be aware of the appearance of their teeth.
They might have stopped noticing that they have bad breath or a bad taste in their mouth. Even pain from poor oral health can be mistaken as coming from somewhere else (such as a headache) so they might not realize that their teeth are responsible.
They Might Not Be Able to Help It
As we get older, we can lose the ability to properly take care of ourselves. With older relatives, toothbrushing and flossing can be one of the first things to go. Arthritis, for example, can make it hard to hold and maneuver a toothbrush or floss, leading them to give up the techniques altogether.
If you talk to them, you can help them find solutions like an electric toothbrush or a water flosser that can achieve the goals of a cleaner mouth without the same demands for manual dexterity.
Talking to your relative can also help you figure out if they need assistance with this or other tasks or may have some barrier to getting proper dental care that you might be able to help them overcome.
Good Oral Health Will Help Them Live Longer
It’s unpleasant to think about the year the family will assemble, only without one of its key elders. It would be even worse to know that you didn’t do all that you could to help that relative live as long as they could and enjoy the best life possible over that time.
Oral health is the essential foundation of good overall health. Many studies have shown that good oral health can help extend the lifespan and the healthspan. It can help your relative avoid early dementia, and can give them a lower risk of heart disease and stroke.
When you talk to them about their oral health, you can help them stay healthier and educate them about modern treatment options that they may not be aware of, such as dental implants or elite dentures.
We know that the conversation may be awkward at first, but if they really listen to you, they will thank you.
To learn more about quality oral healthcare options for yourself or a loved one in the Detroit area, please call (248) 656-2020 today for an appointment with a dentist at Rochester Advanced Dentistry.