Think Long-Term (Beginning with the End in Mind)

Here are some statistics to ponder:

·      Adults lose an average of 7 permanent teeth between the ages of 20-64

·      Approximately 10% of Americans aged 50-64 have zero teeth left

·      35% of young adults have difficulty chewing and biting

·      Only 37% of adults reported going to the dentist in the previous year, even though 95% agreed that regular dental visits were important

Are any of these surprising to you? They were to me. Particularly the last statistic. The vast majority of people know that going to the dentist is important to maintain their oral health, and yet fewer than half of the people in the survey reported going.

The fact is, maintaining good oral health requires effort. The effort needn’t be big – after all, how hard is it to brush your teeth and see the dentist once a year? – but it must be consistent. The habits you have and the decisions you make now will affect your dental health far in the future. For optimal oral health, you have to think ahead. You have to begin with the end in mind.

Know What’s Ahead for You

Dental health is important at every age, and every age comes with its own risks and likely problems. For instance, adults in the 20-39 range are at an increased risk for gingivitis and TMJ pain. Adults 40-59 may see an increased risk of obstructive sleep apnea and periodontal disease. Adults 60 and over have a higher risk of dry mouth and gum recession.

By knowing the common issues faced by people in your age group and what potentially lies ahead, you can be better prepared for what you may face. This is especially true if you’ve had dental work done in the past; at some point, it will need to be repaired or replaced. Crowns and fillings generally last 5 to 15 years before needing to be replaced, veneers last about 10 years, and dentures last 5 to 8 years on average. If you’ve had the same filling for a long time and it’s been replaced more than once, expect at some point to need a crown due to tooth structure. You should be prepared – both mentally and financially – to have this work done when the time is right.

Make it Easy on Yourself

No one wants to endure a painful or invasive dental procedure. But this becomes much more likely if you take a reactive, rather than a proactive, approach towards your own dental care. By skipping regular dentist visits, and being lax on regular home dental care, you’re setting yourself up to lose 7 permanent teeth by the age of 64 (or perhaps even all your teeth!). You’re almost guaranteeing that the only time you’ll go to the dentist is when you’re in severe pain, at which point you’ll need more than a simple cleaning or filling to fix your problem – and, ironically, will likely need to see the dentist more frequently than you would have otherwise.

So make it easy on yourself. I can’t guarantee that you’ll never require any dental work if you brush and floss daily, but I can guarantee you that your dental health will be much better off because of it. Make the small but consistent effort to brush and floss every day, and the occasional effort to visit the dentist for a check-up, and you’ll be ahead of the game.

Imagine You’re 85 Years Old

What do your teeth look like? Do you have a gummy smile and a glass nearby with your dentures in it? Or do you have a mouth full of healthy pearly whites? If having strong and healthy natural teeth in your older age is important to you, then you need to take steps now to make that vision a reality. The great part is, you can start today.