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    Dental Care for Seniors

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    Oral Hygiene Tips for Seniors

    Daily brushing and flossing of natural teeth is essential to keeping them in good oral health. Plaque can build up quickly on the teeth of seniors, especially if oral hygiene is neglected, and lead to tooth decay and gum disease.

    To maintain good oral health, it's important for all individuals -- regardless of age -- to:

    • Brush at least twice a day with a fluoride-containing toothpaste
    • Floss at least once a day
    • Rinse with an antiseptic mouthwash once or twice a day
    • Visit your dentist on a regular schedule for cleaning and an oral exam

    Antibacterial mouth rinse can reduce bacteria that cause plaque and gum disease, according to the American Dental Association.

    What Seniors Can Expect During a Dental Exam

    If you're a senior headed for a check up, your dentist should conduct a thorough history and dental exam. Questions asked during a dental history should include:

    • The approximate date of your last dental visit and reason for the visit
    • If you have noticed any recent changes in your mouth
    • If you have noticed any loose or sensitive teeth
    • If you have noticed any difficulty tasting, chewing, or swallowing
    • If you have any pain, discomfort, sores, or bleeding in your mouth
    • If you have noticed any lumps, bumps, or swellings in your mouth

    During an oral exam, your dentist will check the following: your face and neck (for skin discoloration, moles, sores); your bite (for any problems in how the teeth come together while opening and closing your mouth); your jaw (for signs of clicking and popping in the temporomandibular joint); your lymph nodes and salivary glands (for any sign of swelling or lumps); your inner cheeks (for infections, ulcers, traumatic injuries); your tongue and other interior surfaces -- floor of the mouth, soft and hard palate, gum tissue (for signs of infection or oral cancer); and your teeth (for decay, condition of fillings, and cracks).

    If you wear dentures or other appliances, your dentist will ask a few questions about when you wear your dentures and when you take them out (if removable). He or she will also look for any irritation or problems in the areas in the mouth that the appliance touches, and examine the denture or appliance itself (looking for any worn or broken areas).

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    Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

    You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

    You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

    Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

    SOURCES:

    American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

    This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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