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Frequently Asked Questions About Senior Dental Care

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10. Why do I find it difficult to chew and swallow certain foods?

You may be experiencing these difficulties simply because you have tooth decay, ill-fitting dentures, dry mouth, or another treatable condition. Maintaining proper nutrition is important not only for your oral health but for your overall health, too. Follow this advice:

  • Eat a variety of foods from the five food groups (milk and dairy, breads and cereals, meats and dried beans, fruits, and vegetables).
  • Choose a diet with plenty of grain products, fruits and vegetables.
  • Choose a diet low in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol.
  • Choose a diet moderate in sugars.
  • Choose a diet moderate in salt.
  • If you drink alcoholic beverages, drink in moderation.
  • You may need a multivitamin or mineral supplement. Check with your doctor.

11. Can medications affect my dental treatment?

Yes, medications can impact your dental health. In fact, each time you visit your dentist, be sure to give him or her complete, up-to-date information about any recent hospitalizations or surgery, recent illnesses and/or any changes in your health since your last visit, and any changes in any medications you may be taking. 

Regarding medications, be sure to write down and bring with you a list of the names of current drugs you are taking, their dosages, and frequency of use. Include any over-the-counter products you may be using, as well as any herbal products and supplements. All of these issues will need to be considered by your dentist in order to devise a safe and effective treatment plan for you.

12. I've heard that dental implants are an alternative to dentures. What should I know about implants?

First, you should know that today's older adults are keeping their natural teeth longer. According to a recent survey by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, the rate of toothlessness in individuals aged 55 to 64 has dropped 60% since 1960. This is attributed to scientific developments, as well as to a growing awareness of good oral hygiene practices.

Despite this good news, some older adults do suffer from tooth loss and will need dentures, bridges, or an alternative -- such as implants. Dental implants are replacement tooth roots. Implants provide a strong foundation for fixed (permanent) or removable replacement teeth that are made to match your natural teeth.

Not everyone is a candidate for dental implants. Patients should have healthy gums and enough bone to hold the implant. Heavy smokers, people suffering from uncontrolled chronic disorders -- such as diabetes or heart disease -- or patients who have had radiation therapy to the head-neck area need to be evaluated on an individual basis. Talk to your dentist to see if implants are an option for you.

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How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

Number of Days Per Week I Floss

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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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