Education Just for You - Older Adults
A Healthy Body Starts with a Healthy Mouth
You have likely heard that going to the dentist for routine check-ups is important for a healthy mouth. But did you know that going to the dentist regularly can impact your overall health?
Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is an infection in the gums and bone around teeth. Gum disease makes teeth loose and makes it hard to eat foods that we enjoy. It also makes it harder to manage diabetes, heart and lung disease. Gum disease is common, however it can be prevented and treated by your dentist and dental hygienist.
Tooth decay – or cavities – affect the way we eat, smile, talk and feel about our appearance. Cavities are caused when sugary foods or drinks that we eat are used by germs in the mouth to make an acid. The acid makes holes in the teeth. Having a dry mouth, infrequent tooth brushing, and not having enough fluoride in toothpaste and water can make you more prone to cavities.
So how can you keep your mouth healthy?
- Brush your teeth twice a day with a soft toothbrush. Soft bristles are delicate enough to gently sweep underneath your gums, which is where plaque and germs like to hide.
- Use a fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride prevents decay at every age and can also reduce tooth sensitivity.
- Clean between your teeth once a day using floss or a toothpick. It is most important to find a tool that is easy for you to use between your teeth.
- Add a little crunch between meals. Crunchy snacks like fresh fruit and vegetables are lower in sugar and are less likely to cause tooth decay. Sugary, sticky foods are likely to remain on the teeth longer and increase the risk of cavities.
- Drink optimal fluoridated water. Water not only helps wash away germs, fluoride strengthens tooth enamel to decrease decay.
- Visit your dentist at least once a year or as recommended by your dental provider.
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Community Water Fluoridation
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends all community water systems provide a fluoride level of 0.7 mg/L to prevent tooth decay. Even with the availability of other fluoride-containing products, water fluoridation safely prevents 25% of tooth decay in both children and adults.
Do you know the fluoride level in your community?
For the most current information about fluoride levels in your community, contact your local community water operator or check out the My Water’s Fluoride website.
More oral health resources