10 ways to promote Senior SmilesPosted: Updated:
- Drink fluoridated water: Fluoride in drinking water makes everyone's teeth stronger. Check to see if your community fluoridates its water. If it does not, consider advocating for water fluoridation in your area.
- Brush twice daily with fluoride toothpaste: Fluoride toothpaste is another good source of fluoride. When brushing, use a soft toothbrush, brush for a minimum of two minutes, and remember to brush the tongue.
- Use floss or toothpicks to clean between teeth: Floss and toothpicks clean where brushes miss. When flossing, use a floss holder or your thumb and forefinger to control the floss. Ease the floss between the teeth and carefully rub the side of each tooth.
- Have regular dental checkups, even if you have dentures: Treat problems when they are small. Don't wait until they become painful. For people with dentures, dentists can check for denture fit. Dentists also screen everyone for oral cancer.
- Limit the frequency of starchy snacks and sugared candy or cough drops: Bacteria in the mouth make acid from sweet and starchy foods. This acid lasts for 20 minutes each time we eat, and it damages the teeth. If we are always sipping soda, nibbling crackers or sucking on sugared candy or cough drops, our teeth are under constant attack. This often results in tooth decay.
- Control diabetes: Diabetics who do not control their blood sugar often have gum problems. Many people with diabetes do not know they have it. Talk with your doctor about your risk for diabetes, and have your blood sugar checked.
- Avoid tobacco: Tobacco users, whether they smoke or use smokeless tobacco, are more likely to have gum disease and oral cancer. Avoiding tobacco will improve your oral health and could save your life.
- Check your mouth regularly for lumps, bumps or sores: Cancer can appear anywhere in the mouth and is often painless, so may be overlooked. If you notice a lump, bump or sore in the mouth that does not heal within two weeks, see your dentist or physician.
- Understand the dangers of dry mouth: Dry mouth is a serious condition. Just as tears wash your eyes, saliva washes and protects your mouth. NEVER use sugared candy or cough drops to help with dry mouth, as these cause tooth decay. Sugar-free gum, sugar-free candy, and sugar-free cough drops are best for this.
- Ask your dentist or doctor about fluoride varnish: Fluoride applied directly to the teeth adds extra protection against decay. This is very helpful for people with dry mouth and those receiving cancer treatments.
And remember to share your oral health knowledge with others!
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