Angie Stone, Author: Dying From Dirty Teeth
It is an atrocity that elders in care communities have poor oral hygiene and suffer the worst oral health of any population. This has been reported by the Surgeon General. So, my mother in law wasn’t alone in her suffering. at is the job of the dental team, right? There was one problem. There was no dental team who visited the nursing home and my mother in law could not get to a dental office. As her periodontal condition worsened, so did her chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Her lung infections got more and more frequent. Eventually, COPD took her life. Or did it? It is possible the bacteria from her mouth was infecting her lungs. That would mean that her uncontrolled periodontal disease was the cause of death. This is what happened to me as my mother in law aged. She ended up needing 24-hour care that only a skilled nursing facility could provide. I watched as she struggled, and the care team helped as they could. What I learned is that they were not equipped to help manage her periodontal disease and why would they be? ThThis situation changes as the years to by. Suddenly we may find ourselves watching our parents struggles from a bird’s eye view. The challenges aging brings are never important until we experience them first hand. When we are young that means our parents are likely middle aged and our grandparents would be considered elders. As a grandchild, we typically aren’t too involved in the day to day challenges that grandparents experience, unless those grandparents live a long life.
This experience, coupled with my grandmother loosing 60% of her teeth in two years while residing in a nursing home, put a fire in my belly to make a difference. In 2015, I founded the HyLife Oral Health Alliance (HOHA). HOHA is committed to enhancing the oral health of older adults, because no one should lose their smile or suffer from dental disease. We offer routine on site oral care services that helps control the bacteria that lead to dental disease. If you have an aging loved one and are concerned about their oral health take a look at our website www.hylifeoha.com or contact us for a chat 608.884.0038
Angie Stone, RDH, BS, Founder and CEO, HyLife Oral Health Alliance