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Oral healthcare for seniors

(NC) Today's seniors can expect to keep most, if not all, of their teeth as they age thanks to healthier lifestyles and advances in oral and medical care. But keeping those natural teeth healthy can be a challenge.

Restricted mobility, cognitive impairments and medications that cause dry mouth can all contribute to oral problems and complicate treatment. Even more worrisome is the fact that bacteria from the mouth can travel through the body, resulting in serious infections and inflammation that can lead to cardiovascular and respiratory diseases and stroke.

Dental hygienists encourage all older adults to brush their teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and clean in between their teeth at least once a day. They also advise anyone with dentures (full or partial) and their caregivers to clean dentures and any remaining teeth daily, and brush and massage the gums either with a soft toothbrush or a warm damp cloth.

Whether you're at home or in a long-term care residence, daily mouth and denture care coupled with professional oral care from a dental hygienist can help prevent more serious health problems and keep you smiling.