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Is Age Just a Number? Steps to Help Your Oral and Vision Health Defy Your Age.

Posted on September 25, 2018 in Healthy Living

Middle age couple walking on bridge

“Act your age.” Did adults ever use this phrase when you were growing up? Now that you’re the adult, you can decide how old you want to act. Some say age is just a number or that you’re only as old as you feel. There’s some truth to these statements. But regardless of how old we are – or like to think that we are – practicing good health habits can maximize our quality of life.

As the baby boom generation enters retirement, here are some tips to promote a positive and healthy lifestyle. At Delta Dental of Iowa we coordinate and support several efforts focused on healthy aging.

Supporting Lifelong Smiles

According to the Centers for Disease Control[1], Americans are keeping their natural teeth longer, so it’s even more important to take care of our teeth and smile with confidence throughout our lifetime. Some baby boomers may have grown up in a time before widespread community water fluoridation and good preventive dental care were the norm.

The Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation has committed more than $1.5 Million to efforts supported by the Lifelong Smiles Coalition, which supports and responds to the growing health care needs of older Iowans. These projects developed oral health care training and education for dental teams and the direct care workforce, and continue to expand dental public health initiatives for older adults in more than 42 counties throughout Iowa.

Taking proactive steps to better health

At Delta Dental of Iowa, we know practicing good oral and vision health at every age directly affects our overall health. No matter what your age, practicing good health care habits can have a positive impact. Find health and wellness programs and events in your community to encourage you, such as the upcoming Healthiest State Annual Walk, held across Iowa on October 3. Iowans in all 99 counties will be stepping out to kick off Healthiest State Month. Just 30 minutes of walking a day can improve one’s overall physical, social and emotional well-being.

It’s easier than you think to practice preventive care. Here are some easy ways to protect your smile and your vision.

Oral healthcare for all ages

Defy poor oral health and aging smiles by taking these easy steps:

  • Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste twice a day and floss daily.
  • Maintain regular dental checkups. Dentists can spot the symptoms of up to 120 diseases through regular examinations.[1]
  • Eat a balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D to maintain bone health and drink plenty of water.
  • Enjoy regular physical activity like walking, biking or strength training.
  • In addition to regular dental screenings, if you experience dry mouth, see any unusual spots on your tongue, lips or gums or feel any lumps in your neck or jaw, contact your dental provider.
  • Avoid excessive alcohol consumption, lots of exposure to the sun and any tobacco use. These factors can increase your risk for oral cancer.

Protecting your vision

It’s easy to slip into the mindset that our vision is hereditary or that vision change or loss is just a part of growing older. This may be true to a degree, but there are preventive steps you can take to protect the vision that you already enjoy.

  • Like oral health care, vision care is greatly influenced by good overall wellness. Eating a balanced diet, enjoying regular exercise and drinking plenty of water helps provide the nutrients eyes need.
  • Avoid excessive sun exposure and always wear UV-blocking sunglasses and broad brimmed hats to protect your vision.
  • Monitor your screen time. TVs, smartphones, computers, and tablets – all these screens may cause eyestrain in addition to making you more sedentary than you realize.
  • Don’t smoke. If you already smoke, consider quitting. Talk to your doctor about how to quit if you need help.  
  • According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, about half of all eye injuries occur around the home and about 44 percent of those occur during home improvement projects. Wear certified safety glasses whenever necessary.
  • Schedule and attend regular examinations with your optometrist, even if you do not wear corrective lenses or have vision issues. Keep your optometrist informed about other health issues like high blood pressure and diabetes. 
  • Regular, renewing sleep helps our eyes lubricate and clear out dust and debris.

No matter what your age, preventive health practices can help protect your oral health, vision health and overall health. Balanced nutrition with moderate exercise and a few preventive measures gives you a better chance of a healthy bright smile and clear vision for the future. 

For more information on healthy aging, visit the Resources page on our website or subscribe to our blog, A Healthy Life, for updates. 

[1] 1 Steven L. Bricker, Robert P. Langlais, and Craig S. Miller, Oral Diagnosis, Oral Medicine and Treatment Planning (Philadelphia: Lea & Febiger, 1994).