Seniors can smile into their golden years

Many people believe that as they get older, they will start to lose their natural teeth. However, the percentage of Americans age 65 and over who were missing all of their natural teeth dropped to 26 percent (from 27.6) from 2004 to 2007.In honor of National Older Americans Month, the Pennsylvania Dental Association (PDA) stresses the importance of proper oral health care at any age and offers the following tips to help maintain a healthy mouth: •Brush all tooth surfaces, including the backs of teeth and your tongue, twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush. Floss once a day to remove particles of food that get stuck between your teeth and under your gums. •Visit your dentist every six months for a checkup and professional cleaning. •Bring a list of current medications to your dentist appointments, including those that are over-the-counter, and let your dentist know if you are taking any new medications. •Eat a balanced diet from the five major food groups, and avoid sugary foods and beverages. •Avoid tobacco and alcohol use. Among other things, tobacco and alcohol greatly increase the risk of periodontal (gum) disease and oral cancer. •If you experience dry mouth (xerostomia), talk to your dentist. There are many treatments they can recommend to alleviate the symptoms of dry mouth, including increasing fluid intake, chewing sugarless gum, sucking on sugarless candy or using artificial saliva. Left untreated, dry mouth can cause an increase in cavities, gingivitis and other oral infections. •If you wear dentures, they should be cleaned after meals and before going to bed at night. If you notice changes in your gums, such as red or white sores or raised bumps, report them to your dentist immediately. "Since poor fitting dentures can lead to a host of problems, it is very important that patients continue to visit their dentist annually," said Dr. Craig Pate, a PDA member and general dentist from York. "Your dentist will perform an oral cancer screening and a comprehensive examination, ensuring your dentures are in optimal condition. Also, your dentist can discuss new treatment options that are now available for denture patients. In particular, implants are a predictable and life changing procedure."

********** Published: May 28, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 6