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Winchester, VA 22601
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Seniors: Achieve your best life with these 5 surprisingly simple oral health tips

Though aging is a fact of life, there are things you can do right now—no matter how young or old you are!—to feel and look your best as you reach your senior years. Good oral health gives you the best chance of keeping your own teeth throughout your years, and helps you maintain good overall health. Here are our tips to help you reach your best senior life.

1. Chew and crunch your way to good health

We recently reported on the importance of chewing for maintaining various aspects of health. Choosing healthy, fresh food that you can chew and crunch thoroughly can help you keep your teeth throughout your life and maintain good nutrition, healthy digestion, and healthy blood sugar levels. Recent research suggests that giving your teeth and jaws frequent, regular chewing exercise can help you guard against cognitive decline.

To give your jaws the necessary workout, chew each bite at least 30 times. Choose fresh, unprocessed vegetables such as raw celery, carrots, cucumbers, radishes, peppers, and zucchini; raw fruits such as apples and pears; cooked lean meats; hard cheeses; unsalted or lightly salted nuts; and firm whole-grain bread.

2. Floss between your teeth daily

Flossing cleans bacteria-causing particles from spaces that your toothbrush cannot reach, and helps prevent inflamed gums, which can lead to gum disease. Gum disease has been linked to certain types of cancer, diabetes, heart attacks, high blood pressure, reduced lung function, and strokes, and recent research suggests that it could also be linked to cognitive decline.

Even if you’re not yet in the habit of flossing regularly, both your oral and overall health can benefit from your getting started—and flossing takes no more than 5 minutes each day. 

Dental picks may be easier to use than floss for those with limited dexterity. A water flosser is another option. Your hygienist or dentist can answer questions and provide recommendations.

Ready to start? This 60-second video can help!

Read our blog post on the importance of flossing.

3. Brush your teeth twice daily

Brushing is important to clean the exposed surfaces of your teeth thoroughly. In the morning, brushing reduces the bacteria that accumulates in your saliva overnight, and freshens your breath. Brushing at the end of the day allows you to go to sleep with a clean mouth and minimizes your risk of tooth decay and dental erosion

Brush your teeth for two minutes each time, and be sure to clean all the surfaces, including front, back, and chewing surfaces.

In addition, consider upgrading your toothbrush for extra cleaning power! You can certainly clean your teeth adequately with a manual toothbrush, but an electric toothbrush can make things easier, especially for anyone with mobility issues.

Read our blog post on electric toothbrushes.

4. Be sure you’re getting enough calcium

Calcium helps you build and maintain strong teeth and enamel—it’s one of the most important minerals for good dental health. It’s especially important for seniors to get enough calcium each day to maintain bone density. The Cleveland Clinic recommends these daily amounts of calcium for adults:

  • Adults 19-50 years: 1,000 mg.
  • Adult men 51-70 years: 1,000 mg.
  • Adult women 51-70 years: 1,200 mg.
  • Adults 71 years and older: 1,200 mg.
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding teens: 1,300 mg.
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding adults: 1,000 mg.

Natural sources of calcium include dairy products, certain kinds of fish and vegetables, beans, and almonds; read more details in our blog post on vitamins and minerals for healthy teeth. You can also talk to your doctor about taking calcium supplements.

5. Maintain dental coverage through your senior years and see your dentist regularly

Regular dental visits are essential. Have your teeth professionally cleaned and examined at least twice each year; your dentist will let you know if you should visit more frequently, based on your oral health. This is important throughout your life. 

For many people, having dental insurance coverage is essential for maintaining proper dental care. You may have dental coverage through an employer-based plan. At age 65, most people become eligible for Medicare, but dental care is not covered by basic Medicare. Some Medicare Advantage plans (known as “Part C”) provide dental coverage. These are available from Medicare-approved private insurers. Each plan is different, so check the details carefully. 

Seniors may also find affordable treatment at some dental schools and dental hygiene schools. In addition, many dental practices offer in-house plans for patients (of all ages) without dental insurance. Winchester Dental offers the Smile Care Club plan, which includes routine dental care, X-rays, and discounts on certain treatments. You can read about it here.

Read our blog post on the importance of dental care for senior adults.

Is it time for your next appointment? Contact us today!