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Lifelong Tips for Oral Health

Great news for baby boomers: Theirs is the first generation in which the majority will retain their natural teeth over their entire lifetime. This, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, can be attributed largely to fluoridated water and toothpaste.

Even so, as you enter your “golden years,” your teeth will require much of the same maintenance and even a little extra vigilance. Aging teeth may also bring about additional concerns such as higher frequency of cavities and gum disease, increased sensitivity, age- and medication-related dry mouth, and dentures.

Here are a few reminders to help your teeth age well:

Get routine care

Continue brushing twice a day, flossing daily, and visiting the dentist regularly. Keeping on top of the basics can help you fight decay and catch problems early, when they are often most manageable and less expensive.

Care for your dentures

Just like your permanent teeth, dentures should be cleaned daily. Brush them thoroughly each day and rinse them following every meal. A soft-bristled, denture-specific brush and a gentle denture cleaner are recommended—regular toothbrushes and toothpaste are too harsh.

Make sure you do not let your dentures dry out— they can become warped. Keep them in water or denture solution when you are not wearing them.

And, remember: Dentures are delicate. Handle them carefully to prolong their life. They should be held over a folded towel or sink filled with water to lessen the impact should you drop them.

Even if you wear dentures, brush your gums daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush to keep the tissue healthy and remove plaque. Read more about dentures and implants here.

Be on the lookout

Oral cancer occurs most frequently in men over age 40. Keep an eye on your mouth and look for any changes such as red or white patches on your gums or tongue, sores that fail to heal within two weeks or an unusual hard spot on the side of your tongue. Notify your dentist as soon as possible if you notice any of these symptoms.

Eat well

What you eat can have a big impact on your oral health. Drink lots of water to help wash away food and neutralize plaque—especially if you experience dry mouth. Keep sweets and sticky foods to a minimum, and brush and floss as soon as possible after you’ve had them.

Stay insured

Access to preventive care and having a dental insurance plan are linked. Having dental insurance throughout a lifetime may mean maintaining better oral health and saving money. Beware: Dental insurance and dental discount plans are not the same thing; click here to learn more.

It’s important to continue caring for your teeth as you always have—and if you haven’t been on top of your oral health, then it is never too late to begin!

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