Open wide … for some tips on maintaining your dental health!
With proper care and regular dental checkups, your teeth – at least most of them! – can last for a lifetime. But it’s up to you to make sure that happens. And, as with so many health-related issues, the older we get, the more effort that may require. However, the investment made in maintaining your oral health now will pay untold dividends – both financial and in terms of quality of life – down the road. So, here at Lourdes Noreen McKeen, we’ve got some tips to help ensure your pearly whites keep shining as brightly at the West Palm Beach sunshine…
- Brush and floss at least twice a day – or more if necessary. Cavities, plaque and decay are more common the older we get, so it’s important to brush with a fluoride toothpaste and floss regularly. Using a Waterpik-type flossing device is advisable because, not only does it better clear out debris between your teeth and help maintain your gum health, but it’s easier to use than standard floss if you have arthritic hands or decreasing vision.
- Treat any “dry mouth” conditions right away. Dry mouth is fairly common in seniors – especially if you’re taking certain medications. However, if it’s left untreated, it could damage your teeth. Tell your doctor and/or dentist if you ever experience this because he or she can recommend at-home methods, treatments and/or medications to help you restore proper moisture in your mouth.
- Avoid sugary foods – and make sure you’re consuming enough calcium. Sure, a treat every now and then is fine, but try to limit sugar intake – especially when it’s in the form of processed foods. Instead, opt for fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. And, if you can tolerate dairy products, get your calcium from of milk, yogurt, cheese and the like. And speaking of foods that are great for promoting dental health…
- Snack on apples, carrots and celery. These snacks aren’t known as “dental detergents” for nothing. Crunchy fruits and vegetables increase the flow of cleansing saliva, giving your mouth a fresh feeling. Just be sure the fruits you choose between meals aren’t high in acid because they can be hard on your tooth enamel.
- Add cashews and a slice or two of raw onion to your salads or sandwiches. The nut oil in cashews has been shown to have microbe-fighting properties against bacteria that lead to tooth decay, and recent research has revealed that raw onions have powerful antibacterial properties (in one experiment, onions eliminated four strains of bacteria that can cause cavities and gum disease!). Just be sure to brush a little longer – and maybe rinse with mouthwash too – after eating those raw onion slices!
And perhaps the most important tip… be sure to visit your dental health provider at least twice a year to help prevent oral disease and keep those pearly whites as clean as possible!