Here’s to Your Health: Smiles for Seniors

An oral health seminar will be presented at the Oak Park Arms retirement community. Nurse Pat from Interim HealthCare will present a talk titled “Smiles for Seniors” at 10 a.m. Tuesday, April 9, at the Oak Park Arms retirement community, 408 S. Oak Park Ave. This seminar is part of the ongoing “Here’s To Your Health” monthly series.

With proper dental care, a person’s teeth can last a lifetime. Brushing twice a day and flossing daily, along with regular dental check-ups, will keep teeth and gums healthy.

Although gum disease is not a normal part of aging, seniors may be at a higher risk for developing it because of certain medications, wearing dentures or general health conditions. Other changes as people age, such as receding gums, can also contribute to a faster build up of plaque.

The most common contributors to gum disease include:
•    bad diet
•    poor oral hygiene
•    diseases such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease
•    environmental factors (i.e. stress and smoking)
•    certain medications that affect gum condition

Because gums naturally recede over time, decay on root surfaces and an increase in sensitivity and cavities become more common in older adults.

Seniors may especially have a difficult time properly cleaning teeth because of conditions such as arthritis. When this is the case, increasing the size and length of the toothbrush often helps.

The size and length of a toothbrush can be increased by:
•    wrapping the handle with tape to make it bigger
•    inserting the handle into a rubber ball or bicycle grip handle
•    taping tongue depressors, popsicles or rules to the handle
•    attaching a wide elastic band to the toothbrush and sliding it under the hand

A battery or electric-powered toothbrush is also a great solution for many people. For easier flossing, a number of aids can be purchased at the local drugstore.

Even people who do not have any teeth should visit the dentist at least once a year for a comprehensive oral exam which screens for signs of oral cancer and other oral health or medical problems in the mouth, head and neck areas.

The Oak Park Arms is a rental retirement community which provides independent and assisted living apartments and a full schedule of activities and services. Furnished apartments are also available for a short-term stay – a weekend, a week, a month or longer.

The program is free and open to the public. For more information call Jill Wagner at 708-386-4040.


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