Q. Is napping in the afternoon a good idea?

No doubts about this one. Napping is a very good idea.

In a study published in The Archives of Internal Medicine researchers found that people who napped regularly had a 37 percent lower coronary death rate than those who never napped. The study was done on more than 23,000 Greek men and women ages 20 to 86.

The curiosity of the study's authors was piqued by low rates of heart disease in European and Latin American countries where siestas are an integral part of their lifestyles.

Another study published in Annals of Emergency Medicine provided evidence that nurses and doctors on night shifts perform better when they take a nap at work.

A NASA sleep study to help astronauts function better demonstrated that 24-minute naps significantly improved alertness and performance.

Q. What exactly is plaque that collects on your teeth?

Bacteria, mucus, and food particles in our mouths produce a colorless film on the surfaces of teeth. This film is called "plaque." Plaque contributes to tooth decay and gum disease. Plaque that is not removed can harden and form "tartar."

Brushing your teeth will remove plaque but not tartar. Once tartar builds up, you need a professional cleaning, one of those fun things we all look forward to. Well, it's definitely better than gum disease.

Gum disease is common among seniors because it develops painlessly over a long period of time. Gum disease can be aggravated by ill-fitting dentures and poor diet both of them senior problems. Symptoms include bleeding, swollen or receding gums, loose teeth, a change in your bite, and persistent bad breath or taste.

Gum disease, known officially as periodontal disease, affects about 80 percent of American adults. Periodontal disease ranges from gum inflammation ("gingivitis") to a serious stage that causes tissue damage and tooth loss. In fact, periodontal disease is the leading cause of adult tooth loss.

If you would like to read more columns, you can order a copy of "How to be a Healthy Geezer" at http://www.healthygeezer.com/.

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