It’s not uncommon for everyone to get bad breath occasionally. Too much coffee, garlic, or illness may make your breath unpleasant to others.
Elderly folks can also struggle with bad breath for various reasons. If you or your elder care provider noticed bad breath, find the cause and eliminate it. A mint or gum may help immediately, but it won’t help in the long term.
Here are some common causes of bad breath.
A common cause of bad breath is the inability or unwillingness to clean the mouth properly and regularly. As a result, your loved one should brush her teeth twice daily to keep the mouth clear of food and debris. If she wears dentures, properly clean them each day.
It may not be an intentional lack of oral hygiene for your loved one. In fact, arthritis can make it difficult to reach the toothbrush to the back of the mouth. Or if dementia is present, your loved one may simply forget about this self-care task. Having an elder care provider help with oral hygiene is one way to improve your loved one’s oral health.
Some medications can cause a person to develop a dry mouth. Which becomes much more welcoming to bacteria and thus, bad breath. Saliva washes away the bacteria that cause bad breath. If your loved one has dry mouth, talk to their doctor about the best way to treat it.
Some elderly people don’t drink enough fluids to keep them hydrated, and that can also affect the saliva in the mouth. It might be an intentional decision, because the elderly person doesn’t want to urinate frequently, maybe because of incontinence, or perhaps the bathroom is on another level of the home. It could be unintentional, where your loved one simply forgets to drink the recommended amount of water each day. Whether intentional or accidental, help your loved one understand the importance of being fully hydrated, not only for better-smelling breath, but for many health reasons. You can help by having your elder care provider encourage your loved one to drink a large glass of water each time she visits.
Lifestyle and food choices
If your parent smokes, that can lead to bad breath. Too much coffee (and not enough other liquids) can also lead to bad breath, especially if dentures are worn and not cleaned after drinking a cup of coffee. These triggers can usually be reduced by practicing good oral hygiene and an occasional mint, but if they consistently bring on bad breath, your loved one might want to consider eliminating the habit from their daily life.