Be aware of these potential problems:
• Dry mouth is the result of reduced saliva flow that is often caused by medications. It can lead to ulcers, oral fungal infections (candidiasis), denture sores, gum disease and serious cavities. In addition to other at-home solutions, the patient’s dentist may recommend fluoride treatments and a saliva substitute.
• Cavities are frequently an issue because, in addition to dry mouth, people with Alzheimer’s disease often eat softer, stickier, higher carbohydrate and sugary foods. They also frequently have a significant amount of plaque — making daily oral health care even more vital.
• Dentures can become more difficult to wear due to lack of saliva, decreased muscle control and less supporting bone. Dentures are also often misplaced. If your loved one is living in a nursing home or other facility, have their dentist label the denture with an identifier. It’s also important that dentures be removed and cleaned daily.
• Broken teeth occur more frequently in older people in general. A broken tooth is a dental emergency and should receive immediate treatment.
• Abscesses in the teeth or gums can be very painful, so they also qualify as dental emergencies that require immediate care.