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More attention must be paid to the dental hygiene needs of the country's senior citizens, the California Dental Hygienist's Association has claimed.
The CDHA asked families to ensure that grandparents and older relatives receive adequate dental care by educating themselves about the needs of this age group.
As part of this education, it is important to realize that 400 different commonly prescribed drugs may result in dry mouth, a leading cause of tooth decay, the group warned.
Dry mouth can put someone at risk because saliva is one of the ways the mouth washes away sugars and other cavity-causing substances. It also neutralizes acids and helps re-mineralize teeth.
With that risk in mind, the CDHA suggested that people check the teeth of their loved one for signs of decay, as well as helping them stay on top of their daily dental routine.
"People don't realize how poor oral health can contribute to the downward spiral in the mental and physical health of our parents and grandparents," commented Noel Kelsch, president of the CDHA.
The group described how tooth decay and gum disease - when left untreated - can lead to poor eating habits, malnutrition and a reduction in overall health.
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