West Health


The San Diego Union-Tribune: Late-in-life lapses in oral care could be overall health risk

By Michele Parente

May 22, 2019

In many instances, chronic conditions begin in the mouth

“The oral health of older Americans is in a state of decay,” according to a study by Oral Health America, a national nonprofit that advocates for better dental care.

A bit of a play on words, but dentists are pretty serious folks, so we’ll assume they aren’t joking.

Why it’s important: Oral health is increasingly linked to overall health, with many chronic conditions, including harmful infections, often starting in the mouth. The Oral Health America study found that 4 million emergency room visits from 2008 to 2010 involved a dental condition. The group also estimated that 59 percent of low-income older adults have no dental insurance.

It’s about more than just your smile: According to AARP’s report on What Your Mouth Says About Your Health, oral health can signify other conditions or issues, including diabetes, osteoporosis, acid reflux and oral cancer.

Encourage good behavior: Like they reminded you to do when you were young, caregivers should remind their parents about the benefits of regular dental checkups and practicing good home oral care — brushing, flossing and rinsing. Check out the National Institute on Aging’s easy-to-use guide to Taking Care of Your Teeth and Mouth.


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