As we move into the summer months and as we get out again, how can we ensure a life with strong and healthy teeth and a beautiful smile?  If we’ve been diligent about our home care over the years and visited the hygienist and dentist regularly, there’s a good chance that we’re able to eat what we want and smile confidently at our friends.  However, many of us in the Boomer generation may have lived in an area that did not have fluoridated water, eaten foods with lots of sugar, drank pop (soda if you’re from the East Coast), and may not have had regular care growing up –  especially those of us from large families.  This may have left us with fewer teeth, spaces, or very large and breakable silver fillings.  So what can we do, now that we’re over 50?

Today’s dentistry has materials to rectify the situation.  First of all, decay can be removed easily and painlessly, with advanced detection and effective preparation.  Fillings are done in tooth-colored materials, from composites to porcelain.  Crowns and bridges can also be done with esthetic materials, like Zirconia – a type of porcelain that’s both strong and attractive.  Even partial dentures, that used to have a metal framework, can be made of a flexite material that is both thin, light,  and retentive, without the metal “hooks.”  Implants can also be used to replace missing teeth or as abutments to snap a denture onto, increasing the ability to chew and the confidence of the wearer.

But we also need to remember the importance of good home and professional care.  Dentists may be able to restore the teeth and smile, but the new restorations need to be maintained, much like a new car.  At home, flossing and brushing with toothpastes with fluoride needs to be done after each meal, and sugars in our diet must be limited.  Routine visits to the dentist, every 4-6 months, are important to have your restorations and natural teeth cleaned and inspected to insure their function.  Examinations by the hygiene team can catch problems early with suggestions on how to improve the longevity of the existing and replacement teeth.

So regardless of our upbringing, we have the ability to keep our own teeth and their replacements for the rest of our lives.  Like the rest of our body, we need to keep our mouths healthy and attractive, with the help of regular care at home and at the dental office.  Remember, we can’t have our “best life” without our “best teeth and smile!”