This column was originally published in The Gettysburg Times, January 17, 2018
Healthy Smiles by Rita Tempel, DDS
More and more American children are receiving dental care today than ever before—what great news! This trend has been on the increase for several years now and is cause for celebration.
But “babies” of another age—baby boomers—are unfortunately visiting the dentist less frequently and that is cause for concern. In today’s column, I’m going to shed a light on some of the facts regarding the critical need for baby boomers to resume and maintain their dental health.
“Baby boomers” are usually defined as the generation born directly after World War II between1946 and 1964. As a result of aging baby boomers, the elderly population of the United States is projected to increase from 48 million in 2015 to 92 million in 2060. Many health providers and health agencies are preparing for the increase in health services that will be required to take care of baby boomers as they age.
We are seeing a downward trend in dental visits by all working age adults today. This has been occurring the past several years and while it has a ripple effect on all adults’ overall health, it’s especially dangerous for baby boomers to skip their dental checkups.
Fewer seniors are requiring dentures today because their teeth are still relatively healthy—that is a very positive note! But here is the downside: Since many baby boomers and seniors still have their teeth, they remain at-risk for oral diseases and disorders. For example, as we age, we experience decreased salivary flow—called xerostomia. With a decrease in salivary flow, people are at a higher risk of tooth decay. Without regular dental checkups, tooth decay may go unchecked and undetected for some time, until there is pain and an emergency situation. Why do some baby boomers put themselves in this position, when regular checkups can easily prevent these situations?
Additionally, here are a few scenarios that can happen to patients of any age, but particularly those among the baby boomer and aging population: Patients who have lost some teeth should maintain regular dental checkups to ensure good dental health, particularly in these susceptible areas of their mouth. And for patients who aren’t happy with their smiles, implant dentistry or cosmetic dentistry can impact patients’ nutrition as well as social lives—both proven to increase lifespan.
Dental checkups, from the baby years, into baby boomers’ golden years, can ensure smiles for years to come!
Dr. Rita Tempel is the owner and founder of Gettysburg Smiles, a cosmetic and family dental practice located at 2018 York Road (Route 30 East), Gettysburg. She is a Sustaining Member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. For more information, see GettysburgSmiles.com, follow Gettysburg Smiles on Facebook, or call 717-339-0033.