Post written by guest blogger, Kevin Wells of seniordiabetic.com
Oral health appears to be linked with overall health, but many seniors find the cost of dental care prohibitive. Thankfully, there are opportunities to ensure you receive the care you need. Read on for practical advice on giving those pearly whites the best possible care so you can enjoy the best quality of life in your senior years.
Window to Well-Being
When it comes to things people of all ages dread, dental visits probably rank close to the top. We don’t look forward to the physical discomfort of the exam and the potential work that might be needed, and sometimes our providers aren’t conveniently located. On top of all that, there is the expense involved. However, oral health is a window into your general well-being, and some research indicates a link between poor oral health and other serious health conditions. For instance, heart disease, diabetes complications, respiratory infections, and even dementia seem to correlate with what’s going on inside your mouth. Routine visits to your dentist are important since they can mean catching issues before they become worse.
One Less Worry
Among the reasons seniors avoid seeing the dentist is the hassle of getting to and from appointments. Many people like to schedule back-to-back medical appointments, and if locations are spread out, the building is challenging to navigate, or transportation is an issue, it can keep you going. If your care provider isn’t conveniently located, you can use this search tool to find a dentist nearby.
Costs, Care, and Coverage
Forbes notes that for many seniors, the affordability of dental care is a significant obstacle to routine visits. Original Medicare provides minimal help with dental care, such as in a hospital setting. Routine care, such as dentures, fillings, or extractions, normally are beyond coverage. Thankfully, seniors can often find coverage through Medicare Advantage plans, which also offer assistance with other things that fall outside Original Medicare, including vision care, prescription drugs, hearing exams, and wellness programs.
Sometimes, Medicaid provides coverage for adult dental care, but programs vary by state and procedure. If you cannot afford insurance and it’s not available to you through Medicaid, another option is to search out low- or no-cost dental clinics. Your state dental association can help you locate programs near you; use this guide to find contact information.
Good Habits Are Hard to Break
There are a couple of key habits that help ensure your mouth stays healthy. Make sure you follow a solid dental care regimen, including daily brushing and flossing, using an antibacterial mouthwash and a quality toothbrush. Avoid using tobacco products, visit your dentist regularly, and if you notice any changes or have pain in your mouth, make an appointment.
Along with keeping your mouth clean, watching for trouble, and attending exams, proper eating and drinking habits also weigh into oral health. Consuming enough water helps to avoid dry mouth, and proper nutrition provides the components your body needs to keep your mouth healthy. For instance, protein, calcium, and phosphorus are needed for tooth structure. Vitamin D, folate, zinc, and iron contribute positively to immune function. Processed foods, especially those high in sugar, are hard on dental health and are best avoided. For optimal results, try to include plenty of antioxidant-rich foods, probiotics, and whole foods in your diet.
If you dread visiting your dentist for any reason, look for ways to make it better. Discuss your fears with the dentist. If you are not comfortable with their response to your concerns you can consider finding a new dentist. Look for affordable options. Embrace some healthy habits to keep your mouth feeling and looking its best. If you have general health concerns about visiting a dentist during this time of COVID 19, there are dental hygienists who can visit you in your home to provide dental hygiene care and reduce the number of visits you may need to the dentist office. Call your state Dental Hygienists’ Association to find one.
Your oral health reflects your general wellness, so taking good care of your teeth will give you plenty to smile about throughout your golden years.
In California, RDHAP Connect can connect you to dental hygiene providers in your community. Go to https://www.rdhapconnect.com/i-need-an-rdhap.html to find a dental hygienist near you. You can also call 209-406-7606 or fill out a contact form.
Elena Francisco, RDHAP, MS has been practicing dental hygiene for over 40 years and has been an RDHAP since 2005.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors. Guest authors are responsible for the material in their posts. The material shared is for informational purposes only and not intended as medical or dental advice. The accuracy of information in these posts are not guaranteed. RDHAP Connect is not responsible for the actions of products or advertisers linked to posts.