The Link between Oral Health and Overall Health

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Dental suite chair at InnovAge center
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The Link between Oral Health and Overall Health

July 01, 2019
Maintaining good oral health is an important part of overall health and well-being. That’s why InnovAge has a team of dental experts who provide regular check-ups, and other needed services, to the seniors enrolled in the Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE).

“Dentistry services are an integral part of PACE,” explains Dr. Roger Ames, director of dental services at InnovAge. “These services can include a wide range of medically necessary treatment to restore function, treat disease, and eliminate pain.” 

Certain medical conditions, such as arthritis, may make brushing or flossing difficult for older adults. Some prescription medications can also cause dry mouth, which can increase risk for tooth decay and other problems.

“Oral health has an impact on systemic health, and if people don’t take care of their mouth, it can lead to serious medical issues,” says Dr. Ames. 

With regular exams, dentists can help track these difficulties and check for oral cancer, gum infections, cysts, and more. Oral health can also be linked to other diseases and conditions, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Older adults may avoid going to the dentist because of painful experiences as a child, but forget what you think you know about the dentist. “Times have changed. Today, just about any dental procedure can be done pain-free,” he says.
 
To improve your dental health, consider these tips suggested by Dr. Ames:
 
  • Brush your teeth and dentures twice a day
  • Floss twice a day
  • Limit intake of sodas, other sugary drinks, and alcohol
  • Switch to fluoride toothpaste, and drink tap water
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