Baby Boomers Have Unique Oral Health Issues
We baby boomers are now in our late 50’s and 60’s and some even nudging 70. Some of us are already retired and the rest are not far off. We are expecting to live quite a bit longer than our parents did and most of us have more of our own teeth than they did.
This is mainly because of advances in healthcare and higher quality of life. On the flip side, modern healthcare comes with some negative side effects and these are often linked to poor dental health.
We have not had too many fillings or extractions for quite a few years usually but we notice we are suddenly getting a lot more teeth problems. For most of us, our teeth have not needed much attention at all for the last 30 years but suddenly the dentist is finding some costly issues.
Why is this happening?
We are most likely taking various prescription medicines like blood pressure tablets, cholesterol lowering tablets and anti-depressants.
Because most of us are on a few medicines, we develop a gradual drying up of our mouths called xerostomia. We may not even be aware of it. It shows up as things like teeth that are sensitive, a few fillings and crowns seem to be needed and our teeth are getting more worn down. Our offspring may tell us we have bad breath now too. If we already have false teeth, they seem to fall down much too often and do not chew as well and embarrass us often. These are all because of the drying effect of many of the medications most of us need to take.
- Food, drink and exercise
The gaps around our teeth are getting larger and now a lot of food gets caught. We are learning to floss even if we also struggle with a bit of arthritis in the fingers (and most other places). As our teeth wear down and our lips hang down a bit lower our teeth start disappearing behind our lips.
In our mellowing years, we are enjoying a nice bottle of wine quite often in the evening and a few cups of tea during the day. All these things reduce our saliva flow and this has a big impact on our oral health. Our main exercise is walking the dog or playing with our grandchildren or a steady round of golf. Our bodies are slowing down whether we like it or not.
- Old dental health issues
Our teeth, like our bones, are becoming more brittle and we chip and break them more often now. Most of us have had a mouth full of mercury amalgam fillings that we had in our teens and twenties and they are wearing down and also breaking our teeth and it is all seeming to happen at once. That is why we suddenly start needing a lot more huge fillings and crowns and sometimes lose certain teeth.
What can we do about it?
Even in our older years, it’s still very important to see your dentist regularly. A dental check-up every six months will give your dentist the ability to monitor every change your mouth goes through and how your lifestyle impacts your oral health.
If you’re told your gums are diseased, your dentist may advise us to see a specialist periodontist. If we are missing quite a few teeth, we may be advised to have the missing ones replaced by partial dentures, bridges or implants. The dentist or hygienist may quite likely tell us that we have gum disease and that if it gets much worse it will start to affect our general health. Moderate to severe periodontal disease is now known to cause a number of serious to life-threatening diseases including:
- Heart attack and stroke (you are more likely to die from a heart attack or stroke if you have advanced periodontal disease than if you have high cholesterol levels)
- High blood pressure
- Kidney disease
- Low birth weight babies and premature births (this won’t worry us too much)
- Increased risk of breast cancer in post-menopausal women
Now, research has also found a link between Alzheimer’s disease and poor oral health.
These are the most common issues effecting the teeth and gums of baby boomers. We can reduce the impact of many of these problems by attending our dentist regularly and having our teeth thoroughly cleaned by the hygienist.
We probably face more dental expense now than what we’ve experienced previously. Sometimes it involves big decisions. It’s usually a good thing that our kids are off our hands and we have nearly paid off the mortgage because suddenly our teeth have become a big expense. At Future Dental, we understand all your concerns and are dedicated to helping you through them. This is the time to focus on you and your health.