Here are three things you should do to take good care of your teeth.
- What you should do: Brush and floss two to three times a day to prevent plaque build-up. It is the plaque build-up that causes tooth decay and gum disease. Plaque, a sticky combination of food and bacteria, builds up on your teeth about 20 minutes after eating. That’s why it’s smart to brush your teeth right after you eat a meal.
- Visit the dentist regularly: A dentist can remove plaque that builds up to reduce your likelihood of cavities and gum decay. Unfortunately, Medicare does not cover routine dental care, including teeth cleaning and cavity filling. Medicare also does not cover dentures. Medicaid, however, may cover routine dental care and in some states it also covers dentures. If you cannot afford dental care, you should see whether there’s a free or low-cost health center in your community. Call your local health department to learn more about this option.
- Costs: Rates for dental care vary enormously. You can help keep your costs down if you know what dentists in your community charge for different types of dental care. Visit fairhealthconsumer.org to get a sense of these costs.