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GETTING OLDER

September 26th, 2013

As we age, the body undergoes changes that are inevitable.  But as our medical knowledge advances, we identify some changes that, while once thought to be a fact of aging, are indeed preventable.  Such is the case with the loss of teeth.  As recently as 50 years ago, 80% of  Americans reaching the age of 65 had lost all of their teeth.  Today, that figure is under 20%.
Our expectations are that teeth should last a lifetime, even if that lifetime is getting longer.  But protecting them from diseases is essential.  Brushing and flossing to remove bacterial plaque is the first line of defense.  The plaque can cause both decay on the root surfaces and gum disease.  It is essential to remove it daily.  The diet is a critical component as well.  Frequent snacking, especially on high carbohydrate or soft sticky foods, can make bacteria more active and increase risks of disease.  Stick to the three basic meals when possible.  And, by the way, avoid frequent sipping of drinks with high sugar content or high acidity, including diet soft drinks.
Other problems, such as dry mouth, may affect oral health.  This can be from medications or other conditions, and can be controlled with simple measures.  (Remember, no sucking on candy or lozenges with sugar.)
Finally, make sure to keep your regular visits to the dental office.  The dentist, hygienist and the rest of the staff will help you to maintain your oral health.  They will answer any questions you might have and help design a plan that will help you keep your teeth healthy for the rest of your life.

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