Q: Hey Doc, my dentist won’t stop bugging me. I had a tooth that broke and needed to be pulled, so my dentist pulled it. Now he keeps bugging me to have it replaced. I’m in my 60s and at my age it’s just not worth it. Why won’t he leave it alone?
A: If you are only in your 60s, you are young by today’s standards. Unless you have some sort of crystal ball or magical formula that can tell you how long you are going to be around you should have it replaced.
Not to go off on a rant here but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the same thing from my own patients. As we get older (60 is not old by the way) nutrition becomes extremely important.
Our “young” senior’s lives are very social. Golf, boating, cocktail hour and dining out are just a few of the benefits these retirees have earned. Little kids and babies like your grandchildren are supposed to be missing teeth not vibrant active adults in the prime of their lives.
Missing permanent teeth create an avalanche of problems that only worsen with time. They may begin slowly but eventually worsen and can compromise the lifestyle to which you have been accustomed.
The problem is when teeth are lost, other teeth move to close or fill the empty space. This can and will result in the loss of additional teeth, shifting of the bite and adverse changes to the joint that opens and closes the jaw. It also causes the bone where the tooth was located to be resorbed by the body because it no longer has any function. This, in turn, causes the face to become sunken and drawn allowing the facial muscles to sag making you look much older than your true age.
People will spend huge amounts of money on clothes, shoes and plastic surgery to make them appear more youthful but they ignore this very vital part of their appearance, their teeth.
Missing teeth carry with them a social stigma. If you are 62 years old you have 26 more years to live if you live to be near today’s average age. They’ll spend time with their financial planner for long term retirement. They’ll also spend time planning cruises and trips years in advance but won’t take the short amount of time needed to fix their teeth while they are still healthy and able.
If I were you I would run, not walk to my dentist and take his or her recommendations seriously.
This is an extremely important topic, so I’m going to extend it next week and talk about a personal experience I had with one of my patients who has gone through the same.
Questions can be sent to Fred Eck, D.D.S. at Marco Dental Care, 950 N. Collier Blvd., Suite 305, Marco Island, or call 389-9400. Web site: marcodentalcare.com. He received his Doctor of Dental Surgery at the University of Detroit Mercy and is licensed by the Florida State Board of Dentistry.