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Active Retirees : Active Retirees Dec-Jan 2012
Active RetireesTM | 37 HEALTH Tooth decay occurs when plaque – a sticky substance that adheres to your teeth and can lead to cavities – develops, which is the result of bacteria in the mouth. Gums Keeping gums healthy is just as important as keeping teeth tip top, as they help keep your teeth in place. Yet, explains Dr Karin Alexander, Vice President of the Australian Dental Association Board, even though it may eventually lead to tooth loss, gum disease is a big problem in over -55s. Gingivitis is the most common form of gum disease and is caused by bacterial infection of the gum surface tissues. Gingivitis can also develop into periodontitis when the infection spreads into the deeper gum tissues, and can cause other problems throughout the body. “An excess of bad bacteria in the mouth can travel through your bloodstream and affect other parts of your body too, including your heart,” warns Dr Alldritt. Saliva Saliva is an important component of oral health because it attacks the bacteria that cause and worsen tooth decay, according to the Victorian Government’s Better Health Channel. It also helps neutralise the acids made by plaque and contains phosphate and calcium ions, which help strengthen tooth enamel. One in four Australians has dry mouth syndrome, where a lack of saliva in the mouth can cause food to stick to teeth more, making them more susceptible to decay. If you think you may have dry mouth syndrome, your dentist will be able to help. Soft tissue Soft tissue includes your lips, the insides of your cheeks and your tongue – prime sites for oral cancer. More than three people are diagnosed with oral cancer each day in Australia, according to Dr Alldritt, and cigarette smoking is the main cause. According to the ADA, smoking also increases the chances and severity of gum disease by six – increasing in turn a smoker's chances of losing teeth. Check your mouth often for any changes. “Look for any unexplained lumps, bleeding or wounds and, if they haven’t healed in seven to 10 days, see your dentist,” says Dr Alldritt. Tools of the trade Armed with the right tools, you can help keep your pearly whites and gums in good shape. Check-ups You should have a check-up with your dentist at least every six » 1 Brush your teeth morning and night with fluoride toothpaste. 2 Floss your teeth every day. 3 Don’t use toothpicks as they can scratch teeth and gums. 4 Avoid sugary foods and drinks. 5 Avoid excessive consumption of acidic food such as juice, fruits and soft drinks. 6 Don’t smoke. 7 Chew sugar-free gum to help produce saliva. 8 Drink fluoridated tap water. 9 See your dentist regularly. If you aren’t as mobile or independent as you used to be, develop a dental health care plan with your dentist and family. Vic Samuels is 64 and has always brushed his teeth morning and night, but admits to brushing a bit extra when he has a dentist visit coming up. Vic has seen the dentist twice a year since he was 30 and his dental health is average. Approximately 35 per cent of his teeth have fillings; he has one crown and dentures replace two teeth. “Six months ago one of my top front teeth broke. The dentist advised it was weakened by a filling and it was replaced with a denture,” he says. Another of his front teeth was previously extracted because it was dead. It was also replaced with a denture. “About 10 years ago I was out to dinner with my family. I ordered ribs and when eating them one of my front teeth cracked and the bottom half broke off,” Vic recalls. It was replaced with a crown and you can barely tell the difference. Today, traditional removable dentures are less common, with more people, like Vic, opting to keep as many of their own teeth as possible and have permanent, screw-in dentures replace missing or decayed teeth instead. Word of mouth TOP 10 tips 10
Active Retirees Oct-Nov
Active Retirees Feb-March 2012