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Why you should keep your teeth; don't kid yourself into thinking that tooth decay is mainly a childhood problem.

WHY YOU SHOULD KEEP YOUR TEETH Until quite recently, cavities were believed to be largely the problem of children who ate all that sticky candy and never remembered to brush their teeth. We now know that dental caries (decay) can strike the teeth of people at any age, even into the "senior citizen" years. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association revealed that tooth decay remains a threat well into old age and that the decay problem will continue to grow as the "baby boom" generation ages. The ADA article dealt with a study group of senior citizens in Iowa; 90 percent had coronal caries, and more than 60 percent showed evidence of root caries.

Periodontal disease causes the gums to recede from the teeth. Pockets that harbor enormous amounts of bacteria then form around the tooth roots. Root caries occur when these bacteria invade the tooth root below the gum line. Coronal caries, on the other hand, occur on the crowns, or tops, of the teeth.

There are many possible reasons for the increase of tooth decay among the older population. They elderly are more likely to develop such movement-limiting illnesses as arthritis that make thorough brushing difficult. In such cases, an electric toothbrush can help take the effort out of brushing. Sometimes, simply attaching the toothbrush handle to a sponge ball can help the elderly to better grip and maneuver the toothbrush.

In other cases, senior citizens on fixed incomes neglect their teeth because they can't afford to go to a dentist. Encourage them to visit county or state dental clinics, where charges are based on ability to pay, or to make arrangements with the family dentist to extend payments over time.

Tooth decay can be just one more problem to make life uncomfortable for senior citizens. If you are in that category, you've earned the right to be comfortable, so take good care of your teeth. Proper care is just as important at 60 as at 6.
COPYRIGHT 1986 Saturday Evening Post Society
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1986 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:includes Denture Wearers' Dilemmas - Losing Touch with Your Teeth
Author:Hall, H. Dale
Publication:Saturday Evening Post
Date:Jul 1, 1986
Previous Article:The diet that consumed Nashville.
Next Article:Monarch.

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