You’re healthier if your mouth is healthy, too

February 27, 2015 Providence Health Team

Oral health helps overall health.Brush. Floss. See your dentist. Those are the keys to a healthy mouth. But, did you know oral health is connected to overall health? Gum disease is linked to chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease and stroke. And, Medicare doesn’t cover dental, so protecting oral health is especially important for aging baby boomers.

Good oral health offers more than a pretty smile

Problems with teeth and gums affect appearance – and can be expensive. You can’t be at your best with a stinky infection in your mouth. And, you can’t feel your best if that infection spreads to other parts of your body.

The good news is you can keep your teeth and gums healthy throughout life by taking care of your mouth. 

Four simple steps for good oral health

Floss daily to clean the 40 percent of your tooth surfaces that brushing doesn’t reach. Flossing helps you look younger longer by preventing receding gums, a telltale sign of aging.

Brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride helps keep tooth enamel strong.

Get regular oral health checkups to prevent problems – or detect them early. Those problems can get worse – and expensive – quickly. Since Medicare doesn’t cover dental, it’s important to consider how to pay for dental care as you age. 

Limit snacking and choose healthy snacks. Every time you eat or drink (especially foods with sugars and carbs), you’re feeding the germs in your mouth that cause cavities. The germs create an acid that attacks your teeth. Even snacks often regarded as healthy (juice, granola bars and raisins) contribute to decay if consumed too often. Choose healthy snacks such as cheese, fruit and vegetables.

Finally, many older adults have dry mouth (a common side effect of medications) which can lead to tooth decay. Manage dry mouth by sipping water throughout the day. Ask your doctor, dentist or pharmacist about other dry mouth treatments.

Unleash the power of good oral health. Your health and appearance will benefit – and so will your pocketbook. 

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