3 Healthy Aging Topics for Oral Health

by MikeMeehan 9/20/2017 12:45 PM

We have oral health concerns for older adults, so we have some information and tips to consider as part of healthy aging. We’ve talked about a diet filled with fruits and vegetables and improving your brushing and flossing technique, which will help your oral health in the long run. But let’s review more focused information concerning your oral health as you get older, or as your parents or loved ones get older. Don’t retire your dental benefits when you retire from work Most of us plan for retirement as best we can, but sometimes those plans do not include funds for dental benefits. Since most lose their employer-sponsored dental insurance when they retire and Medicare doesn’t cover dental, many older adults don’t visit the dentist. We don’t want that to happen. According to a 2012 study, almost 70% of people age 65 and older have gum disease, and gum disease is the most common reason for tooth loss among seniors. Despite issues like cavities, in the same study, about a quarter of adults 65 and older haven’t seen the dentist in the past five years, missing valuable cleanings and oral health exams. In addition to cleaning teeth at each exam, dentists should screen for oral cancer, periodontal disease and other mouth problems that become more common in older individuals. This is why it’s important to keep those appointments. Delta Dental offers low-cost individual plans designed for people of all ages and oral health needs. Consider putting away money for dental benefits when you plan your retirement accounts. Also, maintain your good oral health routines like brushing twice a day for two minutes and flossing daily. Whatever your plans are, make sure oral health is a part of your healthy aging. Is your new medication also a prescription for oral health issues? As we age, some of us may face health issues that require medication, and your prescriptions can have negative effects on your oral health. One of the most common side effects from medications is dry mouth. This condition deprives the mouth of saliva, which plays a critical role in preventing tooth decay. To help with this, drink plenty of water and limit caffeine and alcohol. Canker sores, a metallic taste in the mouth, discolored teeth, and “gingival overgrowth” (when gums swell and start to grow over teeth) are other side effects to medication. Consult your doctor and dentist for guidance and more information. Also, it’s important to keep dentists up to date on medications, vitamins and supplements you’re taking so they can monitor your oral health for side effects. If you notice any changes in your oral health, contact your physician or dentist right away. How to help a loved one maintain their oral health Besides encouraging an older loved one to maintain dentist visits and the routine of brushing and flossing daily, for those with a friend or family member with dementia or Alzheimer’s, here are a few tips to consider: Keep step-by-step directions for brushing and flossing near the bathroom sink. Provide a toothbrush with a wider handle or an electric toothbrush with a timer so your loved one knows how long to brush. Notice any discomfort or pain your family member may have during meals or while brushing or flossing teeth. If your loved one is in a full-time care facility, ask how they handle dental care and dental visits. As discussed above, remind your loved one to drink water throughout the day to help with dry mouth, a side effect to many medications. Dry mouth can cause plaque build-up and lead to gum disease. Learn about other dental concerns and ways to counteract them. And look for more about healthy aging and your vision in next week’s blog.

More Fruits and Vegetables for More Healthy Smiles

by MikeMeehan 9/6/2017 10:01 AM

September is another month to focus on the importance of including more fruits and vegetables into our diet, and we’re on board with that. Consuming fruits and vegetables will help your overall health and your oral health, so that means healthy smiles. And healthy smiles are what we like to see. We all need more fruits and veggies in our life, and we’ve got a good resource to help you with that. The Fruits & Vegetables–More Matters health initiative has a mission to help Americans increase the amount of fruits and vegetables they consume. The nutrients in fruits and vegetables will do wonders for your health, and we’d like to talk about a few that are especially good for your oral health. In the summer, we recommended the seasonal picks of strawberries, apples and watermelons, so we’ve got them covered. Now here’s a few more fruits and vegetables to add to your menu and how they help your teeth and gums: Celery – A good source for vitamins A and C. Added bonus of celery – it works as a natural toothbrush! When you bite down on celery, its texture scrubs the surface of your teeth, brushing away food particles and plaque. Leafy greens – Spinach, kale and other leafy greens contain calcium, important for healthy bones and teeth. Calcium helps strengthen your enamel and jawbone. Carrots – They are so crunchy, they will increase saliva production and reduce the risk of cavities. Also, carrots have Vitamin A. This vitamin keeps the mucous membranes in your mouth healthy. Spinach and mangoes are other good sources of vitamin A. Citrus – Vitamin C strengthens gums and can protect against gingivitis. It can also reduce inflammation and fight infections, like gum disease. Citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruits are packed with this nutrient. Some citrus and other fruits have high acidic content which is bad for your enamel. It’s recommended to eat cheese with your fruit because it can neutralize the acid. Rinsing with water after eating acidic foods will also help. Cantaloupe – If you don’t like the acid in citrus fruits, cantaloupe is a great choice for vitamin C. Also, peppers, blackberries and broccoli have this multifunctional vitamin. Sweet potatoes – They’ve got vitamin C and vitamin E. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant and fights inflammation. When you eat raw vegetables and fruits, it requires more saliva to break down the food. Saliva keeps the bacteria in your mouth, which can cause cavities, under control. If you eat some raw veggies after a meal, the activated extra saliva can also wash away any remaining food particles and help prevent cavities. Smile, for many reasons Whether you eat them raw or cooked, dried or canned, consuming more fruits and vegetables will make you smile for many reasons. You’ll have more energy, a stronger immune system and healthy teeth and gums. With the many options listed above, find opportunities to include these healthy choices into your routine meals.

6 Tooth Care Tips to Keep Your Kids in School with Healthy Smiles

by MikeMeehan 7/31/2017 10:20 AM

According to a report by the Surgeon General, more than 51 million school hours are lost each year to dental-related illness. We don’t want our kids to miss even one day of fun and learning because they have a dental issue, so let’s start off the school year with healthy smile habits. While you and your family start the routine of packing lunches, doing homework, and getting to the bus on time, remember to make brushing and flossing a part of that. When brushing teeth becomes a part of the routine, it will help create and encourage the healthy habit. With a healthy smile, kids can enter the classroom with confidence. But with an unhealthy smile, kids could miss more days of school and be more distracted while in class. Painful dental problems could prevent kids from participating in class activities and could also affect their concentration levels. Serious issues like tooth decay affect their overall health and could lead to other problems with eating, speaking and learning. These healthy choices will keep your kids smiling and help prevent missed school days for dental procedures: Brush with fluoride toothpaste twice a day, making sure all surfaces of the teeth are covered. While paying close attention to the gum line, gently brush teeth for two minutes. (Try the toothbrush timer on our mobile app) Floss teeth at least once a day. Schedule regular dental appointments for the whole family. Our mobile app allows users to book dental appointments with the tap of a finger. Pack lunches with healthy smile choices like apples, carrots and celery. Try to limit sugar-filled snacks and high-starch or refined carbohydrate foods like chips, pretzels, cookies, and white bread. Choose milk or water instead of juice for lunch. The bacteria that causes tooth decay thrives on simple sugars, like those found in sticky foods and sugary beverages, like soda, juice and sports drinks. Children smile, on average, 400 times a day! Let’s keep those smiles healthy, clean and bright while they are in school and all the time. If you haven’t made your preventive dental appointments for you and your kids yet, here’s your reminder. Most plans cover dental exams and cleanings every six months. You still have time before the kids head back to school!  

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