Why Your Dental Visit Is So Important
Did you know the American Dental Association recommends you visit your dentist every six months? Seeing your dentist regularly is important not just to keep your teeth pearly white. Your oral health can affect your overall health, too.
As you age, you become more likely to have dental issues because of wear and tear on teeth over time and other health-related issues. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, 93 percent of seniors age 65 and older have tooth decay in their permanent teeth. Also, 18 percent of seniors age 65 and older leave their tooth decay untreated. This can lead to more serious health issues, such as gum disease, oral cancer, heart attack and stroke. Untreated tooth decay can even make it harder to manage certain health conditions, like diabetes.
During regular dental cleanings, besides tooth decay, your dentist will also be looking for signs of oral cancer, diabetes and gum disease. They’ll also check your head and neck to make sure nothing seems out of the ordinary.
Do you wear dentures?
You aren’t alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 1 in 5 adults over 65 experience complete loss of their teeth and will need dentures. Caring for your dentures is different from caring for your natural teeth. Partial and full dentures should be removed from your mouth once a day for cleaning, usually before bed.
- Before cleaning, rinse your dentures under cool water. Hot water can change the shape of your dentures.
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to remove any plaque or food from the surface.
- Everyday toothpaste and cleaners should not be used on your dentures. These products can damage the surface. Use a denture-cleaning solution for the best results.
- You should continue to regularly clean your gums, natural teeth and tongue.
- To stop your dentures from drying out or changing shape, place them in a glass of water or denture cleaning solution overnight.
- Avoid sleeping in your dentures. This can be dangerous and irritate your gum tissue.
Living with diabetes?
If you have high blood sugar, you’ll definitely want to keep up on your oral hygiene. Don’t let diabetes stop you from showing off your smile.
- Watch out for dry mouth, inflammation in your gums, and thrush, an infection caused by fungus that grows in the mouth.
- Try to keep your blood sugar close to normal to lower your risk for dental problems.
- Tell your dentist that you have diabetes and what medications you are taking.
Things everyone can do between visits
- Plaque is always forming on your teeth. Help stop the growth by brushing your teeth at least twice a day.
- According to the ADA, either a manual or electric toothbrush is effective when cleaning. If you have a hard time using a manual toothbrush, an electric brush may give you better results and be easier to use.
- Change your toothbrush or toothbrush head every three to four months, or more often if the bristles are worn or you have been sick recently. Replacing your toothbrush will ensure a better clean and decrease your contact with bacteria.
- Be sure to floss daily. Floss between each tooth, making a back-and-forth “C” shape.
- Make sure to use toothpaste or mouthwash that has fluoride in it to stop tooth decay.
To find out more about what dental coverage each Medicare Advantage plan includes, check your plan’s Evidence of Coverage. Just visit the Florida Blue Medicare Forms page and view your plans Evidence of Coverage. This document will give you a full list of dental services covered in Chapter 4 under the Medical Benefits Chart. Look for the heading marked “Dental Services.”
Filed under: Medicare