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Dental and Oral Health (Seniors)

Nutrition and Oral Health of the Older Adult

To help maintain proper nutrition and keep teeth and gums healthy, the older adult should continue to eat enough foods each day that contain calcium, protein and other essential nutrients. A healthy diet can help keep the mouth healthy.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture updated its nutritional guidelines in June 2005. USDA recommends selecting from the following food groups to help ensure a healthy diet every day:

 

Meat & Bean Group

Grain Group

Milk Group

Fruit Group

Vegetable Group

(Source - http://www.choosemyplate.gov/)

Your family physician may also recommend a daily multi-vitamin or mineral supplement.

Avoid or limit foods and beverages high in sugar and starch, and low in nutritional value. Diet soft drinks should be limited - the acid in these drinks can contribute to tooth decay and gum disease. Alcoholic drinks should also be in moderation.

 

Is the older adult eating regularly?

Eat Regularly

 

At every age, good nutrition is an important part of good oral health. Older adults, however, may not get a balanced diet for many reasons. In fact, they may not eat regular meals, and that too, can hurt their oral - and overall - health.

 

Some of the reasons an older adult may not eat much or regularly could be:

 

What can be done?

For oral disease or other illness, the appropriate health professional, e.g., dentist or physician, should be consulted. The family or caregiver should be advised of any suspicion that the older adult is not eating regularly or is not eating enough to maintain his or her nutritional health. Every effort should be made to provide regular, nutritional meals to the individual.

Your city or county may have a home-delivery meals program that serves home-bound adults or those on limited incomes. (The Ohio Association of Area Agencies on Aging or the Ohio Department of Aging can provide information and eligibility criteria for other elder assistance programs.

If finances are not a problem, professional caregiving services are available. These offer in-home assistance in areas such as grocery shopping, meal preparation, assisting with the daily hygiene routine, and other services.

Published with permission from Smiles For Seniors... an oral health initiative of the Ohio Dental Association

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Last Reviewed: Jun 27, 2014