In Dental School, we shared a popular phrase with each patient. “Only floss the teeth you want to keep”. Improper care leading to periodontal disease and the loss of teeth is essentially giving up on your oral health.
So, why does 50% of the population leave flossing out of their daily routine? Some of the excuses we hear are: “I can’t get the floss between my teeth”, “It hurts”, or “I have arthritis”. Are these excuses just evidence of giving up?
A few years ago while speaking to a group of healthy 90 year olds I asked if they were too old for dental care. Unanimously they said no! I then asked if there was a time they should give up because of age. They unanimously said no again! So, why do we still hear 70, 80, and 90 year olds as well as families and caregivers making age a reason for giving up on restoring their teeth?
There must have been a time when giving up was not an option. Many seniors today still have almost all of their teeth. Some have dental restorations in varying degrees of health and failure. So, why would anyone choose to give up on something so important?
Sometimes it is the family or caregiver who state that they just do not want mom or dad put through a lot of pain. It might be physician who fails to help families place oral conditions in a proper perspective. Giving up can actually come from dentists who say, “if it doesn’t hurt, don’t fix it”. Giving up can result from a lack of knowledge and poor advice.
The lack of pain can no longer be the reason we give up. Pain with dental disease continues to decline as we age and research shows a direct relationship between oral and systemic diseases and their impact on total health and wellness. As we age, any infections in the mouth will create a lowered resistance to disease in the body.
It is our job as dentists to make care accessible, patients comfortable, and improve the communication between the patients and the community in which they live. We recommend that when you are looking for a community in which to live, that you make sure that a comprehensive dental program is offered.
So, when should a senior give up their teeth? These dentists say never: Bruce Hasenauer DDS &
Bob Deloian DDS
Editor’s Note: This article was submitted by Dr. Robert Deloian and Dr. Bruce Hasenauer. Both Doctors are practicing dentists with Access Mobile Dental and may be reached at 303-471-0346 or by email email@example.com