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Oral Care After Age 55

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The good news? More Canadian adults than ever still have their own teeth at age 65 and beyond. 

The not-as-good news? That can present some challenges. 

For one thing, certain medications and natural changes due to aging cut down on production of saliva, which helps neutralize bacteria-produced acids that gnaw away at tooth enamel.

As well, half of Canadians aged 65 to 79 have periodontal disease — a chronic, low-grade infection of the gum tissue that increases the odds of aggressive decay and tooth loss. (It’s also linked to an increased risk of heart disease, and pneumonia.)

And unfortunately, since 50 per cent of Canadians over age 60 have no private dental insurance, many avoid going to the dentist due to the cost.

However, regular visits for preventive care can help keep your teeth and gums as healthy as possible. Your dentist can also suggest strategies for dealing with problems such as dry mouth, check for signs of fungal infections and oral cancer, and help ensure your oral health is in good shape before a hospital stay or starting cancer treatment. 

(If cost is a barrier, your dental office may be able to set up a payment plan. Dental schools often have clinics that offer services at a reduced fee; some also have community outreach programs.)

To learn more about how dental professionals can contribute to healthy aging, check out this health feature that originally appeared in Good Times’ April 2016 issue: Oral Care After 55.

My heartfelt thanks to the interviewees who so generously shared their time and expertise:

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay