Dental Health is Important
As we age, it becomes even more important to pay attention to our dental health. After all, all of our nutrition comes from what we take in through our mouth, whether we are drinking or eating – even swallowing vitamins. As AARP Magazine recently noted, without Medicare and limited benefits for dentistry, getting dental work done while being relatively healthy and before retirement can be a lifesaver, both physically and financially.
Early Care Matters
Having practiced dentistry for nearly 40 years, following three years serving as a captain and dental resident in the United States Air Force, I have followed and cared for many patients and their families. Some of these patients were seen by my late father, Dr. Sam Marsh, and continued in the practice when he retired and when I took over following my military service.
Thankfully, many of these people and their families have remained with us and are dedicated to taking care of their teeth, having them examined, cleaned, and radiographed (x-rayed) on a regular basis, along with routine checks for oral cancer. They not only have beautiful smiles with a full complement of teeth, but also remark that compared to many of their friends and peers, they have had little to no pain with their teeth and can chew quite well – not avoiding any foods because of issues with dentures or partial dentures.
This consistent care also has saved them money; most have had very few major or expensive procedures. Though dentistry does have a number of options to replace missing teeth, such as implants and bridges, the techniques and materials take time and are costly.
There also is an emotional component. Many times, I have sat across from a new patient whose chief complaint is that they won’t smile for pictures or when they meet someone because they are ashamed of their smile. This often comes into play when there is an event like a reunion or wedding.
These patients want to look and feel good, and they need to feel confident with their smile. Additionally, a nice smile and healthy teeth come into play when job-hunting or searching for a partner.
Recently, an engaged couple in their early 70s – both widowers – came to see me to get the gentleman’s teeth and smile improved. After reviewing the options, they chose to have some veneers and crowns done, which helped to straighten his teeth while also brightening them. They were thrilled with the result and even sent us a wedding photo, with both of them beaming. He, of course, had the biggest smile in the picture.
Whether or not your needs are nutritional, financial or relationship-driven, a healthy mouth is an important component of growing older. Fortunately for Boomers, today’s dentistry can help – from keeping their teeth clean and working effectively to providing a smile to be proud of.
This article originally appeared in the March/April issue of Northeast Ohio Boomer and Beyond.