The Caregivers is a unique series focused on the challenges and triumphs of caregiving. These stories have been created through a strategic partnership between AARP and Word In Black.

Smiling is one way to exude joy when we’re experiencing special and quotidian moments. But many of us struggle with maintaining good oral health. Sometimes we receive miseducation about the need for healthy dental routines. Other times, we just don’t have access to affordable providers. The more than 60 million enrollees in Medicare, for example, do not receive coverage for routine dental care under the current system. According to a KFF study, 68% of Black Medicare enrollees did not visit the dentist in 2018. Sometimes small oral issues can lead to bigger ones.

Here are some tips for maintaining good oral health:

Brush your teeth and floss regularly. 

There are various kinds of toothbrushes and floss products. Identify one that suits your needs. Dentists recommend brushing twice daily and flossing once daily.

Pay attention to what may feel off with your mouth. 

Take note of how your mouth feels after eating and drinking, engaging in physical activities, or taking medications. Make adjustments to your diet or activities, as needed. 

Schedule a regular appointment with a dental professional. 

Regular, thorough cleanings and examinations with a dental professional will help you maintain good oral health. A dental professional will be able to answer questions about any concerns that you may have about your mouth. They may also be able to suggest preventive care. If you’re unsure about how to find a good dental professional, then start here.

Explore your dental coverage options.

Dental coverage varies. You may be eligible for certain benefits through a private provider. If you are single, married, or widowed, then you may be paying a different premium. Some charitable organizations, dental schools, and associations may help pay for routine oral care. Check here for a list of offerings. If you’re enrolled in Medicare, you may be eligible for certain dental procedures that are necessary for another Medicare-covered health procedure. If you need help sorting through dental coverage options, then start here