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Keeping Bones & Teeth Strong as We Age

Good oral care later in life not only means a good smile, it may just help you to stay healthy.

HEALTH GOES STRONG
ROBYN FLIPSE

So much attention is paid to building strong bones and teeth in childhood that we often overlook the importance of maintaining them in adulthood. But keeping the bones and teeth healthy is one more way to prevent injury and illness as we age.

Women are especially vulnerable since they can lose as much as 20% of the calcium in their bones after menopause due to the decrease in estrogen. Good nutrition, regular exercise, and proper oral hygiene are the keys that can keep you walking and chewing on your own for many years to come.

Check-Ups & Posture: Don't slack off on twice yearly visits to the dentist or daily flossing. Get bone mineral density testing done as advised by your physician and correct your posture every time you stand up. Have your vitamin D levels checked, and rechecked, until they are within normal limits.

Calcium & Casein: Women over age 50 need 1200 mg calcium a day from a combination of food and supplements. Check the Nutrition Facts label on the foods you eat regularly to see how much calcium you're getting from them, even the milk used in coffee.Every 10% of the Daily Value is equal to 100 mg of calcium in the United States (and 110 mg of calcium in Canada). Bonus: The casein in milk products helps fortify tooth surfaces against acids.

Fruits & Vegetables: Eating at least 5 servings a day provides many of the essential vitamins and minerals needed by bones, including magnesium, potassium, vitamin C and vitamin K. Chewing fibrous raw fruits and vegetables also stimulates saliva production, which protects tooth enamel from bacteria.

Alcohol & Gum: Moderate drinking is good, if you do drink, because the equivalent of 1-2 glasses of wine a day has been reported to protect the bones of menopausal women. Sugarless gum containing xylitol can slow the action of bacteria that cause dental cavities.

Fluids & Fluoride: Dry mouth increases the risk for oral diseases when the antimicrobial substances found in saliva are in short supply. Drinking fluoridated water serves double duty by keeping you hydrated and providing a source of fluoride which is needed to protect the teeth against decay throughout life.