Author: Dr. Ved Berani
One in three Australians, by the time they turn 55, will have lost more than two teeth due to periodontal disease or cavities. Most don’t worry about this at all and less than 20% take any action to replace them and/or go on a maintenance program to preserve what’s left.
Planning ahead can make the difference between enjoying the juicy steak by biting into it or cutting into pieces and trying your best to swallow small portions. We start to plan almost everything as we near retirement: our superannuation, taxes, dream vacations, golf memberships and even our estate and funeral when we might have to take the last journey. So why should our body and specifically our mouth be any different?
Planning for your teeth may sound absurd to many but planning to make sure you have the ability to crunch on those nuts will give you a universal appeal. As other parts of our body start to show wear and tear so do the oral structures including your gums, palate, taste buds and teeth. They have given you a long service and might need some looking after. Early on in life (20 to 55 years) we often make decisions about our dental needs based on a weighted benefit and are invariably not able to choose the best option due to other financial and/or time constraints. Hence patching up teeth and sometimes pulling them out often brings us into retirement with few teeth missing and the rest being filled to eternity. Chronic conditions like tooth decay, gum disease, tooth wear and to a greater degree diabetes and heart disease start to affect what is left in the mouth.
This happens quite rapidly as we mature and other medical conditions and drugs directly or indirectly start to take on their toll on the mouth. Taking decisions early on will help you deal with these while they are still controllable. Often, if diagnosed early, the loss of teeth due to gum disease and tooth decay can be controlled and minimised. Preventative mechanisms can be put in place, like diet modification, changing the brush or technique you use, incorporation of certain mouthwashes and an established oral health program can prevent problems from progressing to an untreatable outcome.
Healthy Smiles is a dedicated dental practice that provides the best dentistry has to offer. We offer the opportunity for you to discuss these issues in person one-on-one and provide possible options with information so you can make an informed decision. Our ‘Teeth for life’ maintenance program makes sure problems are diagnosed early and action taken if necessary.
Each case is different from the other but the overall view is to save what we can as long as it has a reasonable prognosis. Even a few teeth in the mouth helps hold the bone together and act as an anchor tooth for prosthesis to replace missing teeth. So whether you are 80 years old and wear dentures or just entering retirement it is a good time to have a check up. As with many thing in retirement, its you call, your life and your bite.
Note: This information is of a general nature only. Any specific action must be taken in consultation with an oral health care professional.
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