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Beyond brushing: How to maintain good oral health as you age

April is National Oral Health Month, a good time to check-in on your teeth and gums. Your oral health is an important part of your overall health and something that should be prioritized as a part of your regular routine. Older adults are at particularly high risk for oral health problems, and poor oral health in seniors has been linked to general systemic health risks, such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, poor nutrition, glycemic control in people with diabetes and respiratory infection. Despite this growing body of evidence, the mouth seems to be forgotten and neglected. 

 

As we get older, there are more changes in our teeth and gums which means they require more care, rather than less. Common challenges in the oral cavity include missing teeth, gum/periodontal disease, root decay, dry mouth (caused by medications) and more. There are many reasons that oral care can be neglected including a reduction in dexterity and independence, and limited financial resources in retirement.

 

Poor oral health can impact your overall wellbeing in your 'golden years'. Adopting healthy oral habits, like reducing your consumption of sugary foods and sweetened beverages, daily brushing and flossing of your teeth, and regular dental check-ups can go a long way in maintaining good oral health in your senior years. Including costs for regular care as part of your financial planning will help to ensure you have the resources needed should your dental care needs increase.


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DISCLAIMER: These summaries are provided for informational purposes only. They are not a substitute for advice from your own health care professional. The summaries may be reproduced for not-for-profit educational purposes only. Any other uses must be approved by the McMaster Optimal Aging Portal (info@mcmasteroptimalaging.org).

Many of our Blog Posts were written before the COVID-19 pandemic and thus do not necessarily reflect the latest public health recommendations. While the content of these blogs identify activities that support optimal aging, it is important to defer to the most current public health recommendations such as social distancing and frequent hand washing. Some of the activities suggested within these blogs may need to be modified or avoided altogether to comply with current social distancing recommendations. To view the latest updates from the Public Health Agency of Canada, please visit their website.

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