Keep smiling

"When you're smiling/the whole world smiles with you" are lyrics from a 1928 song that's never lost its popularity -- it was recently sung by Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret in Season 3 of "The Crown."

Smiles are good for your physical and mental health, no matter your age. Unfortunately, they're increasingly difficult for many older folks. A study in Health Affairs found that 50% of older adults lack dental insurance, and in 2018, nearly half received no dental care. Put another way, for 1 in 20 folks, being old enough to sign up for Medicare is associated with loss of all their teeth! That's not good. It ups the risk of poor nutrition, cognitive impairment and decreased quality of life.

It's never too early -- or too late -- to take good care of your teeth. And if the cost of dental care is an impediment to needed care, it's more important than ever: Brushing and flossing twice a day are steps one and two. Upgrading your diet is essential too: High-calcium foods neutralize acid that harms enamel and can help add minerals back into tooth surfaces. Dairy products (low- or no-fat) are a great calcium source; so are soybeans, broccoli rabe, kale and other leafy greens. Drink plenty of water to help boost saliva levels -- saliva is how calcium transfers to your teeth. And, ditch sugary foods -- sugar feeds bacteria that damage tooth enamel. Also investigate dental schools in your area for free or reduced-price care; go to

Health pioneer Michael Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer emeritus at the Cleveland Clinic and author of four No. 1 New York Times bestsellers. His next book is "The Great Age Reboot: Cracking the Longevity Code for a Younger Tomorrow." Do you have a topic Dr. Mike should cover in a future column? If so, please email [email protected].

King Features Syndicate

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