How to Help Aging Parents Maintain Their Oral Health

June 30, 2016

Senior Dental Health - Elderly couple on bench looking at a lake

When we were young, it was our mother or father who imparted to us the importance of maintaining a healthy mouth. They showed how to brush and floss our teeth and made sure we did it every day. Even before we were able to do it ourselves, our parents probably did it for us. Of course, that’s just one example of the many things our parents did for us to help us foster strong health habits.

As time goes on, you may have an opportunity to return the favor. If your parents are having some physical difficulty handling self-care and hygiene requirements, or if they’re having trouble remembering to do so, you can step in and help them maintain their health to the best of their ability.

Here are some practical tips to make that possible:

Set up friendly reminders

Senior Dental Health - Colorful sticky notes marked “Don’t Forget”
Simple notes or electronic reminders can help maintain a health routine. 

This could be as simple as a Post-it Note on the bathroom mirror, a phone call near the end of the day, or, if they’re technologically savvy, setting up alerts on their mobile phone. If your aging parent is having difficulty remembering to brush and floss their teeth, regularly replace their toothbrush, or make their semi-annual appointments with the dentist, arrange to provide reminders as needed.

It may be necessary to take a more active role in helping maintain proper oral health habits by making dental appointments on their behalf and calling to make sure they’re brushing and flossing.

Keep them stocked with supplies

You may already be helping your parents with grocery shopping and purchasing other necessary supplies. You can help them maintain their dental health by also making  sure they have an adequate supply of dental floss, tartar-control toothpaste, and soft-bristled toothbrushes. This will ensure there’s always at least one of each item available, and if they misplace one, they can pull out another quickly and easily. They may also need you to pick up anything they need to care for dentures, if applicable.

Assist them financially

Senior Dental Health - Adult mother and daughter reviewing billing statement
Seniors have options available to them to save on costly medical care.

If your parents are like a significant portion of older adults in America, they’re on a fixed budget and are probably finding the cost of healthcare to be higher than they imagined. When that’s the case, decisions have to be made about what care they can afford.

In an attempt to cut costs for what is not covered through Medicare, dental care and dental insurance are often among the first costs to be eliminated, especially if Mom or Dad are not experiencing any current pain or problems. However, maintaining good oral health can be a vital part of maintaining overall health and routine dental visits can serve as an excellent means of catching some of the very serious conditions that older adults often face (such as heart disease, diabetes, and potential stroke) early enough to treat them effectively.

Make the decision to ease the burden of maintaining their dental health by enrolling your parents in a dental discount plan. Dental discount programs are a great alternative to dental insurance for older adults. For a very small monthly fee, they can receive significant discounts off nearly all dental services, putting quality dental care within reach of even a tight budget.

Having the opportunity to help our parents out as they get older can draw us closer together as a family. Find out how to save on dental care with a dental discount card.

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