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Published on Sunday, March 31, 2024

You play the biggest role in your dental care

By Tay Morrison and Amber Schieck,

Grey Bruce Health Unit

 

For the first time in Canadian history, people aged 65 and older outnumber those under 15 years of age.

As the older adult segment of our population grows, so too does their oral health needs. Advances in oral health care means many seniors will require treatment on their natural teeth for a longer duration.

Regardless of age, oral health is an important part of overall health.

Every year, researchers are finding more links between oral health and the health of the whole body.

There is growing evidence linking gum disease to a variety of serious health conditions, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes and respiratory disorders.

You play the biggest role in your own dental care. Basic oral health care at home includes brushing twice daily, for two minutes each time, and flossing daily. Flossing is important because it reaches the in- between surfaces that a toothbrush cannot. Lastly, a fluoridated mouth rinse can be used to decrease cavity susceptibility.

Routine, preventive oral health care is VERY important. Don’t wait until there is a problem to visit a dental professional. It is important to see your dentist and dental hygienist regularly for a check-up and cleaning. Your dentist may be able to identify and diagnose issues before you even realize there is a problem.

Dental hygienists are not just “cleaning” your teeth. They remove bacteria and tartar that cannot be removed with a toothbrush. Tartar is plaque that has hardened to the tooth and root surface below the gum line. While you are having your teeth cleaned, your hygienist is also looking for signs of cavities, gum disease, bone disease, fungal infections and cancer. Each visit to your dental professional will determine if there are any new or existing abnormalities and they will make appropriate referrals.

For those without their natural teeth who wear dentures, whether full or partial, it is still important to practice good oral care at home. It is important to maintain your denture, as you would natural teeth. It is recommended that dentures are removed nightly to give your mouth a break. Overnight, dentures can be left in water or denture-cleaning solution. Your dentures need to be cleaned with a soft brush and denture paste to remove plaque and tartar. Seniors with dentures should visit the dentist at minimum yearly. This allows the dentist to check the mouth, tissues and fit of the denture and make any necessary adjustments.

The new Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program is a government-funded dental care program. It provides free, routine dental services for low-income seniors who are 65 years of age or older.

For more information about the Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program, visit www.ontario.ca/seniordental or call the Grey Bruce Health Unit at 519-376-9420 extension 8 for dental department.

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Categories: Your Health, Dental Health

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