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Healthy Aging Month: How to keep your smile for life

The majority of baby boomers will maintain their natural teeth over their lifetime, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And, there has been a substantial decrease in the past decade in the number of people ages 65 and older who have lost all their teeth. The widespread use of fluoride in water, toothpaste, and other products has helped reduce tooth decay among all ages.

Having a mouthful of natural teeth in your older years requires that you make the right moves for decades beforehand. Besides brushing gently at least twice a day, paying special attention to the gum line, and flossing at least once a day, you must seek regular checkups and cleanings.

A dental visit involves a comprehensive checkup that extends beyond your teeth. Dentists screen for oral cancer — which is particularly vital for people who drink alcohol, smoke, or chew tobacco. Dentists also look for side effects of medication. You should tell your dentist if you have diabetes or heart disease. These conditions can affect your oral health.

You should also update the dentist on changes in your health, including major illnesses as well as medications you take. Some drugs can affect your oral health or interact with drugs the dentist may give you.

Also, alert your dentist if you notice any of these changes:

  • Sensitivity to hot or cold foods or drinks
  • Pain when chewing
  • Pain, pressure, or swelling of your gums
  • Discoloration of your teeth

Leaving dentures to your grandparents is a worthy goal — and one that has implications far beyond dental health. Research shows that poor oral health is linked to a variety of other ailments, including heart and lung disease, diabetes, and stroke.

After you blow out the candles on that 80th birthday cake, don’t stop taking care of your teeth. Brushing, flossing, and regular dental visits should remain part of your life.

Need help? Finding a dentist has never been easier. Look for a TRDP network dentist and save on your out-of-pocket costs.

Last updated September 2017

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