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For Natural Teeth at 80, Start Young

By Jill Hamilton on January 31, 2012 in Dental Health


Do thoughts of dentures make you want to squirm? Does it conjure up images of your grandparents taking their teeth out at night and putting them in the glass of water next to their bed? If you would rather leave the fake teeth to your Halloween costume, you have to start taking care of your teeth now!

Let's start with the good news! These days, majority of baby boomers will maintain their natural teeth over their lifetime. The widespread use of fluoride in water, toothpaste and other products has helped reduce tooth decay in all ages, and has made a substantial decrease in the past decade in the number of people ages 65 and older who have lost all their teeth.

To keep your mouthful of natural teeth in your golden years, you need to make the right moves starting decades beforehand. You know you should brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss at least once, but you must also see your dentist on a regular basis for checkups and cleanings.

A dental visit involves a comprehensive checkup that extends beyond your teeth. Dentists screen for oral cancer, side effects of medication, diabetes and more. Plus, even if you think you are doing a great job at brushing and flossing, if any plaque is left behind it hardens into tarter. Once it hits this stage, only a dental professional can remove the tarter. If the tarter is not removed, it can not only lead to cavities, but also gum disease which can increase your risk for heart disease and other health issues.

Despite the importance of dental visits, many Americans avoid the dentist due to dental phobia. If your anxiety is keeping you from seeing the dentist, check back next week for tips on how to overcome your fears of the dental chair.

Leaving dentures to your grandparents is a worthy goal – and one that has implications far beyond dental health. So after you blow out those candles on your 80th birthday, don't stop taking care of your teeth. Brushing, flossing and regular dental checkups should remain a part of your life.