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4 Habits Seniors Should Embrace For Good Oral Care

Senior man and woman with great teeth at kitchen counter smiling and gazing at each other fondly

How long do you think it takes to form a habit? Well, on average, it takes more than two months before a new behavior becomes automatic — 66 days to be exact. Whether these tasks are already a frequent occurrence, or you need to start putting an emphasis on change, they’ll help your smile and health stand the test of time.

1. Daily Oral Care

If you don’t floss, you miss cleaning 35% of the tooth surface!

Make brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing part of your routine. Food particles can get stuck in the crevices of your teeth and without constant maintenance, plaque and tartar can start to form. 17.2% of adults 65 and older have periodontal disease and 10.6% have a severe case.* Although periodontal disease is a step before gum disease, it just goes to show how susceptible you can become without taking the proper steps for prevention.

2. Keep Up with Dental Appointments

As we get older, or oral needs change. Keeping to a regular schedule with a 6-month check-up or even an every 3-month visit can make a huge difference when it comes to catching a problem. As mentioned, periodontal disease is a real concern as it can turn into gum disease if not properly taken care of. We suggest finding a dentist you like, and booking your yearly appointments all at once. Once on the schedule, you’ll more than likely receive a reminder call from your dentist about a week out. Setting them in advance allows you to put it out of sight and out of mind.

3. Quit Smoking

This one probably doesn’t come as a surprise. Smoking has a been a habit among many for years, and the addictive qualities have been proven. Whether you smoke, don’t plan on stopping anytime soon, or have never picked up a cigarette, we think everyone should be aware of the effects:

  • Tooth discoloration
  • Increased buildup of plaque and tartar
  • Lower success rate of dental implants and delayed healing process for periodontal treatment or oral surgery
  • Increased risk of developing oral cancer

If you’re looking for a little more incentive to help you quit, visit YouTube. We’re sure there are a few videos that might be scary enough to make even the most avid smoker think twice.

4. Eat Well

An apple a day can keep the doctor away. It might not actually keep the doctor away, but with the right nutrition, you are doing your body a tremendous service. Your mouth and oral habits are connected to your overall health, so making the right choice has a full body effect!

What happens when you watch what you eat?

  • Your chances of getting gum disease or tooth decay lessen
  • Eating certain foods can help promote healthy teeth and bones, reducing the risk of tooth loss
  • You will experience an increase in energy
  • Your daily digestion can improve

Eating well can be fun. Head to Pinterest or your favorite cookbook for inspiration!

These four habits should be embraced by all and not just 65 years and old. If you are a senior, making these part of your routine can help you lead by example for friends and family members. Plus, a smile is one of the prettiest things you can wear, help make yours last a lifetime!

*National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, 2014

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