Aid Healthy Aging by Caring for Teeth

Healthy aging is something we all aim for as we get older. No one simple trick can perk up your health, but a routine of many habits appears to help. While exercise, diet and mental stimulation come to mind as ways to ease aging, you might not think of dental health.
 
Many people are stressed about their teeth. Cavities and decay may weigh down your spirits, but poor oral health can physically impact you as well. Older folks tend to have more oral health problems. Tooth decay is more common in people over 65 than in school-age kids.
 
This is, at least in part, due to losing dental insurance because of retiring. Any impairment to mobility or a condition like arthritis can also have negative impacts as it can make brushing and flossing difficult. Additionally, prescription and OTC drugs may increase oral health risks. Gum disease, tooth decay, oral cancer, tooth loss and cavities can plague older people.
 
A lot of health problems can start as chronic oral health problems. Good oral health can lower your risk for heart disease. People who brush their teeth for less than two minutes twice a day are three times more likely to have heart health problems. Heart valve problems can also start in the mouth with oral infections. Moreover, gum disease is a risk factor for strokes. It may be a contributing factor for developing type 2 diabetes. Long term gum disease has been associated with Alzheimer’s and dementia.
 
Twice daily brushing, daily flossing, drinking fluoridated water, using mouthwash, limiting alcohol, quitting tobacco, seeking treatment for dry mouth and visiting the dentist when possible can all help protect you. Many dentists have lower fees for older people without insurance.
 
The American Dental Association says brushing with fluoride toothpaste will give the best results. “It’s a low-risk, low-cost option that we know has other benefits,” said Dr. Ann Bolger, a cardiologist with Univ. of California, San Francisco. “There’s no reason not to recommend someone do this.”
 
Brushing twice daily and flossing takes up time when we may be tired or busy. But, the earlier you start taking care of your teeth, the better results you’ll see. Moreover, doing something daily helps it go from a chore to a habit. So, practice good oral maintenance now for benefits later.
September 27, 2019
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