The aging process affects every part of our body – even our teeth. Which means a lot of people – many of them “baby boomers” – are now among those who are getting full or partial dentures. In fact, one in five adults – including half of the over-55 generation – has at least one denture.
Why? For one thing, we’re living longer. When the 20th century began, only 3% of the population was 65 or older. One hundred years later, that age group accounted for 20 percent of the population. The fact is, our natural teeth are being asked to work longer.
Moreover, many of us assault our teeth and gum tissues on a daily basis with everything from sugar rich sodas to candy bars and chewing gum. And many of us can’t seem to find the time to brush, floss, and rinse often enough to maintain optimum oral health.
The result? Teeth begin to decay. And if you don’t care for them, they become problems and sometimes they must be pulled (extracted). Here is where more problems occur. Because, “in general, as long as the teeth are present in the jaws, the jawbone stays intact. When the teeth are extracted, the jawbone begins to melt away,” explains Dr. Keith A. Robinson, in his book, “Growing Older With Your Teeth, Or Something Like Them.”1
A more pressing problem is gum disease, which causes more lost teeth than cavities cause. This is why flossing is so important – as Dr. Robinson says, “It is the best way to clean out the garbage that rests and decomposes between teeth.” He adds, “An old saying is used by dental professionals frequently…pick out the teeth you want to keep and just floss them!”
The bottom line? Visit your dental professional regularly, because a dental professional treats mouths, with or without teeth. And if you’re having problems, ask your dental professional to try everything possible to avoid having your tooth or teeth pulled. Even the best denture isn’t likely to be as good as what Mother Nature gave you in the first place. Exhaust all opportunities…crown and bridge work, partials, precision attachments or implants (when surgically placed implants support a dental restoration)...before having any teeth pulled.
At best, dentures are a compromise. Discuss all options with your dental professional. You may even want a second opinion on your treatment options.
1 Keith A. Robinson, D.D.S., F.A.G.D., M.A.G.D., Growing Older With Your Teeth Or Something Like Them, Synergy Publishing, Inc. 1998.