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.
Well, here we are, a month since my last posting, still sheltering in place. We are all struggling to "keep it together" and find the silver lining in all this. The goal with this post is to avoid the future of silver either in or on our teeth. ;-)
I am attaching a copy of an excellent list the California Dental Hygienists' Association put together. Though we are unable to get preventive dental hygiene care for a couple more months, it becomes even more important to pay close attention to our oral health. My recommendation would be to open this list and work accomplishing all these items.
As I write, I just had an idea. There are 10 Dental Hygiene Tips on this list. Check off the ones you already complete on a regular basis. Then strive to add one more item regularly to your daily routine each week. If you have a family, partner, or roommates, you can create something fun. We have to admit, we need to make things fun at this time. What else can we do? At any rate, back to the list.
Create a calendar or use an existing one if you still have a hanging calendar at home. Assign everyone a pen or highlighter color, use stamps, initials, whatever you need to give everyone their own signature on the calendar. As you complete the "Oral Hygiene Tip of the Week" each day. add your mark to the calendar. At the end of a time you decide on as a group, winner gets a prize.
I recommend this game for families with kids, but we all need incentive right now, and prized can be 'age appropriate". I think of easy stuff - choosing the topping on the Friday night pizza, which movie to watch, which walk to take together, no dish duty, no garbage duty - you get the picture.
We can all use a little diversion from business as usual. I hope adding a little oral hygiene challenge to your week can help make this mundane activity fun, and may even prove to reduce the nagging. "Did you brush your teeth?"
For those of you who have children, the American Dental Association has a series of videos each about 2 minutes long, that you can start and run as hour child cleans their teeth. Again, designed to decrease the nagging and help us to spend more time on our oral health .
I hope you enjoy this adventure in oral health. All dental care providers hope to be able to get back to taking for your oral health soon, but until then, help us out. We want to praise your home care when we see you next.
Much to our dismay, 2020 will forever be remembered as the year of COVID-19, also known as the corona virus. In America are currently in our second week of attempting to isolate ourselves from this virus in the United States. As I write, 6 states - California, New York, Oregon, Connecticut, Illinois, and New Jersey - are on statewide shelter in place orders. We are asked to practice social distancing - stay home and curtail all no essential exposure to other people, places and things. In other words, don't leave our homes unless we have to.
This is a trying time. Worldwide, we are in uncharted territory. There have been mass outbreaks of disease before, but not within the memory of most living adults. In 1918, the worldwide Influenza Pandemic killed over 500,00 million of people worldwide and an estimated 675,000 Americans. And this was during the times before the ease of travel that we take for granted in the 21st century. Researchers and public health officials are saying we are the beginning of an outbreak that could out pace that of 1918.
But before we panic, we need to try to calm ourselves, stay healthy and not risk exposing ourselves and loved ones to this virus unnecessarily. We all know the drill: wash our hands well and often, cough and sneeze into our elbow, don't tough our eyes, nose, or mouth with soiled hands, and stay hydrated.
Where does oral health come into this have to do with oral health? Well, a lot. As we all began sheltering in place and restricting our movements, we were asked cancel non-essential medical and dental visits. One can see why we would want to avoid the medical office or clinic. They are swamped and that's where people go when they are sick. But the dental office?
What we know about this virus is that it is spread through droplet or aerosol. That is why covering a cough is vital to reduce risk of transmitting this virus. One of the places where aerosol is common is the dental office setting. Dental drills, ultrasonic scalers the dental hygienist uses, and air/water syringes we use to rinse, all create invisible clouds of airborne particles. This is the reason oral health professionals wear surgical masks, protective gowns, and goggles. They help protect us from the airborne particles and potentially pathogenic (disease causing) germs and viruses that no only can splash on us, but tend to hang out in the air and settle on our clothes and faces.
Of course we worry about the patient's health, as well. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it takes about 10 minutes for the aerosol in the dental office setting to settle, reducing the patient's risk of inhaling potentially harmful pathogens. To add to that, when you are in the room getting your teeth cleaned, it is your bugs you are being exposed to; not usually a problem for you. All that stated, what would otherwise be a regular visit to the dental office could be life threatening to the dental care provider if the patient has already unknowingly been exposed to COVID-19. This is where the story of the N95 masks begins.
Generally, in most healthcare settings, the standard surgical mask you are most used to seeing your dental hygienist wearing, prevents most pathogens from passing through to our noses and mouths. They generally keep us safe until they get wet, which occurs from our own breath and aerosols. This is usually about an hour. Then we need to replace them with a new mask for continued disease transmission prevention. We know the COVID-19 virus is small enough to pass right through this type of surgical mask. The only mask that prevents the clinician from inhaling the virus is the N95 mask. Dental offices generally do not carry or need to use these type of masks.
Back to your oral health. Let's imagine you decided to cancel your dental hygiene care appointment on the recommendation of the American Dental Association and your local public health department. That is OK. Actually probably smart. For now. But what if this pandemic continues for months and the shortage of N95 masks prevents your dental office staff from safely treating patients. What happens to your oral health? Well, remember all those oral hygiene instructions your dental hygienist has given you over the years? You probably have a drawer in your bathroom full of proxibrushes, dental floss, interdental picks, and toothbrushes. Pull them out and start using them.
Your preventive home care can go a long way to preventing gingivitis and gum disease. If you can, purchase a water flosser , which can help you care for the teeth of those in your home unable to care for their own teeth, and those unable to dental floss properly. Whatever home care routine you have, strive to maintain it. Since most of us are home sheltering in place, we have time to rinse and spit after meals, reducing the food and debris left between our teeth. This is something our hygienist probably told us, but we were too busy to do it or forgot.
When stuck at home or working from home, snacking can be a challenge. Watch the sweets and acidic beverages you ingest. If you find yourself snacking all day, give your mouth the occasional swish and spit. Same with coffee or sugared beverage. Mix it up by drinking water every other cup of coffee.
A little extra prevention can go a long way to maintaining your beautiful smile. Just remember to call and reschedule that dental hygiene care appointment as soon as life gets back to normal.
Post written by guest blogger, Kevin Wells of seniordiabetic.com
Are you trying to lose weight? Shedding a few pounds can be a huge life improvement for older people. Weight loss means less pressure on joints, a wider range of movement, and fewer limits on your abilities. Moreover, weight loss decreases the risk and severity of dangerous health issues, including heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
However, many of us aren’t sure where to start when it comes to weight loss. There are so many companies out there ready to sell you their secret magic trick for shedding your excess fat. In truth, many of these companies either offer unsustainable fad diets, dangerous weight loss aids, or just guide you through a simple weight loss equation you could probably manage on your own. Instead of shelling out cash in pursuit of unrealistic claims, take a proactive, healthy approach to your own weight loss. Here are a few realistic, safe, and budget-friendly ways seniors can shed the weight.
Most people can’t lose weight without addressing their diet, but that doesn’t mean it should be your only avenue of attack. Most people, regardless of size, don’t get enough exercise. Regular moderate activity is vital for people of all ages, but it’s even more important for seniors. Beyond the direct health benefits of exercise, seniors who work out are also at lower risk for slip-and-fall accidents and other serious injuries.
If you’re new to exercise, begin with something simple, like regular walks around the neighborhood. Start small and gradually increase your distance. Make sure you have good shoes – poor arch support while exercising can wind up causing injuries, setting you back. If you don’t already have a good pair of sneakers, use a deals site such as Rakuten to find discounts online. This way you can get the right gear without draining your wallet.
Understand the Physics
All effective diets boil down to one simple concept: To lose weight, you must use more energy than you consume. You can do this by cutting back on calories, increasing exercise, or both. No matter how you do it, if you burn more than you eat, you will lose weight.
However, when you don’t decrease your caloric intake too much. You want to avoid this for several reasons. For starters, you run the risk of malnutrition. Everyone, especially seniors, needs a base level of calories to keep your body running right. Go below that, and you can wind up seriously sick. Additionally, intense deficits tend to lead to yo-yo dieting: losing weight but gaining it all back. This is because the deficit is unsustainable and doesn’t teach you how to maintain once you hit your goal. Talk to your doctor to figure out a conservative, manageable calorie deficit and workout plan you can use to pursue gradual weight loss.
Avoid Fad Diets
There are all kinds of diet plans that say cutting one specific thing will cause the pounds to fall right off. Whether it’s carbs, fats, processed sugars, or even cooked foods, the idea of cutting out a whole food group is unsustainable. You may even have a friend or family member who’s had a lot of success on these plans. However, they may not be right for seniors, for whom a balanced diet full of vitamins and nutrients is absolutely vital.
Unless your doctor tells you that you must eliminate one of these categories from your intake, avoid these kinds of fad diets. Yes, they will probably cause you to lose weight in the short term. However, since they don’t teach you how to maintain a healthy lifestyle indefinitely, you’re likely to gain the weight back once you stop following the plan. If one of these elimination diets really appeals to you, proceed with caution. Have a long conversation with your doctor or nutritionist before starting to make sure you’re still hitting all your nutrient goals.
Maintain Oral Health
Research shows that untreated periodontal disease, which is an inflammatory disease process, can negatively affect blood sugar. As most diabetic patients know, uncontrolled diabetes can negatively slow wound healing, which includes oral lesions and periodontal disease. Our advice is for all individuals with diabetes to see their dentist and dental hygienist regularly, even those with dentures.
Healthy, sustainable weight loss is a great way for seniors to improve their health and quality of life. Always speak with a doctor before making any exercise and diet changes, and be sure to take care of yourself while striving to reach your goals.
Photo Credit: Pexels
The Holidays are here. Sweets abound. We know you want to give your kids, grand kids, nieces, and nephews everything they deserve. They don't, however, deserve cavities.
We can't stop kids from eating sweets. but we can encourage them to:
Tips on having handy healthy snacks available may include:
Health teeth. Health body. Healthy Holiday Season.
You can also click here to read a Centers for Disease Control article about children's oral health.
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.