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7 Things You Need To Know About Your Teeth As You Age

Prevention Logo By Markham Heid of Prevention | Slide 1 of 8

7 Things You Need To Know About Your Teeth As You Age

As far as body parts go, teeth are pretty low-maintenance. You can keep them happy and healthy with just 4 minutes of brushing—2 minutes, twice a day—and the occasional dentist checkup.

But those simple steps become more challenging as we age. And that's a problem, because cavities, gum disease, and oral cancer are all more common later in life, says Judith Jones, DDS, a professor of dentistry at Boston University and an expert spokesperson for the American Dental Association (ADA).

"People think cavities are just for kids, but older adults have as much or more tooth decay as young kids," Jones says.

A report from the CDC shows rates of oral cancer peak after age 60. And yet nearly 40% of older adults haven't seen a dentist in the past year. That percentage holds even for people who are experiencing pain due to a tooth or gum issue.

"Good oral hygiene is often overlooked as a critical component of good general health," adds Karen Becerra, DDS, dental director of the Gary and Mary West Senior Dental Center.

Here's what older adults need to know.

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