If you are between 55 and 75 years of age, you are a Baby Boomer. That means that on average:
- The majority of you still have your natural teeth, unlike all previous generations.
- You’ll live an average of 34 years longer than your grandparents.
- You’re a member of the wealthiest generation in American history.
While all of these facts are very good news for the average American, individually, we must make healthy and timely choices in our own lives to make them a personal reality. The healthier you keep your teeth and gums, the more you can lower your risk of diseases that can either shorten your life or reduce your quality of life. Additionally, your dental needs will be less costly at a time in life when most Americans are either retired or planning to retire in the next few years.
So, here’s the bad news. Researchers have identified an ever- increasing list of diseases that have been connected to chronic gum disease and dental decay.
- Heart disease: According to the Academy of Periodontology, people with periodontal disease are almost twice as likely to have coronary artery disease.
- Alzheimer’s disease: Researchers from the University of Central Lancashire have identified Porphyromonas Gingivitis (a bacterium associated with chronic periodontal disease) in the brain tissues of dementia patients.
- Stroke, Diabetes, and breast cancer: Each of these diseases has been shown to have a connection to the presence of untreated periodontal disease in recent years.
Additionally, failing to protect your oral health can have a very negative effect on your overall health and well being. Failing dentition leads to the inability to chew, gastrointestinal problems, malnutrition, dental pain, impaired speech, low self-esteem, and social isolation.
Now the good news: If you take care of your teeth and gums, all these risk factors go away! Periodontal disease and dental decay are among the most easily preventable conditions of the human body. There are several important and cost-effective daily habits that baby boomers must develop and maintain through their retirement years. These include brushing twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste and a soft bristle brush. Use an electric brush if your manual dexterity is limited. Brush your tongue daily; it is a huge plaque reservoir. In addition, floss once daily with floss, flossing aid, or an interdental brush. Keep dentures and partials meticulously clean as well. Eat healthy high- fiber foods, limit sweets and sugary beverages. In addition to these daily habits, make it a habit to see your dentist.
- Seek dental treatment immediately when you notice bleeding gums, unusual swelling in the mouth, or unusual tooth pain or sensitivity. Early treatment will minimize the damage, pain, and cost of most dental problems.
- See your dentist twice yearly for professional cleaning and preventive check-ups.
If you follow this simple prescription for good dental health, now and throughout your retirement years, you will have a very good reason to smile!