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What Are the Top 5 Causes of Bad Breath in the Elderly?

Halitosis is a common problem impacting many seniors, and there are more than a few potential causes behind this unpleasant condition. Lancaster, PA, home care experts discuss some of these causes and offer tips for preventing the resulting bad breath.

1. Tooth Decay

Food particle residue builds up on the tongue and gums and provides a way for bacteria to grow. Once the gums begin to recede and the enamel on the teeth breaks down, your loved one’s teeth may decay, causing an odor that leads to bad breath. To prevent tooth decay, your loved one should avoid eating high-sugar foods, stop smoking, and brush and floss regularly.

2. Unclean Dentures

The same debris and bacteria that accumulates on natural teeth builds up on dentures as well. This bacteria produces the sulfur compounds that cause a type of bad breath known as denture halitosis. To prevent this condition, your loved one will need to regularly clean his or her dentures and the areas of the mouth where bacteria accumulates, including the tissues the dentures rest on like the posterior region of the tongue.

3. Dry Mouth

Many seniors take some type of medication to treat heart disease, cancer, and other conditions, putting them at a higher risk of developing dry mouth. When dry mouth occurs, not enough saliva is being produced, which reduces the odds of washing away the dead cells that have accumulated on the tongue, cheeks, and gums, resulting in bad breath. To help prevent dry mouth, speak to your loved one’s doctor about alternative treatments. Your loved one should also drink plenty of water, stop using tobacco, and limit caffeine intake.

4. Dementia

Seniors with dementia often have bad breath because they are no longer able to manage hygiene tasks independently. If your loved one has dementia, he or she may lose the ability to clean his or her teeth, as well as the interest in doing so. You may need to take over this task or hire a Lancaster home caregiver to help. You should also inform the doctor that your loved one has developed bad breath as a result of dementia symptoms, and the doctor can offer advice for keeping your loved one’s breath fresh. 

5. Diabetes 

Diabetes is one of the most common causes of bad breath, and seniors develop this disease more than any other age group. This condition can destabilize the natural balance of your loved one’s body, making way for bacteria and germs that cause bad breath. If your loved one already has diabetes, he or she can maintain fresher breath by avoiding alcohol and coffee and practicing better oral care.

Age-related ailments can make it difficult for some seniors to practice good oral hygiene. Help your loved one get the support he or she needs by reaching out to Home Care Assistance. Our dedicated caregivers are available 24/7 to assist with various grooming tasks and other important everyday activities. In addition to our respite and 24-hour care services, we also offer specialized Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and post-stroke care Lancaster families trust. For more information, call a friendly Care Manager today at (717) 540-4663.