Over 10,000 people retire in the United States every day, and with the loss of employment, often comes the loss of dental benefits. But dentists say maintaining good oral health in retirement can be every bit as critical as taking care of any other part of the body. And it doesn’t have to be expensive.
Dental coverage, even basic care, is not provided under Medicare or the Affordable care act, and supplemental private policies are very expensive. As a result, over 70% of retiring baby boomers have no dental insurance. This is significant because that group of boomers is highly unlikely to return for the vital regular six-month cleaning visit.
Failing to protect oral health can lead to poor overall health: the inability to chew leads to malnutrition, warped speech, pain, social isolation due to embarrassment, and now thousands of studies show that it is a contributing factor to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, erectile dysfunction and Alzheimer’s disease. The most important cost effective habits that boomers must continue into retirement are regular home care, 3-6 month professional cleanings and annual check-ups from a dentist.
Continuing good oral health should begin as soon as retirement does because that is when teeth are in the best condition. Three to six-month cleanings are necessary not only to prevent major problems but to identify and treat potential problems in the early stages to avoid the need for implants, root canal or oral surgery. Who wouldn’t rather have an easy small filling than one of the big league treatments?
Skipping regular cleanings can also have a huge impact on overall health when periodontal disease and gum infection worsens. This occurs in 80% of the population. Bacteria, which is always present in every human’s mouth, are given the chance to fester and grow below the gum line where home brushing and flossing don’t reach. Incidentally, this is what your dental hygienist cleans at your cleaning appointment where you can’t reach. The infection slowly grows, eating away supporting bone, causing severe bad breath and most notably, significantly increases the risk of many diseases.
The news is not all bad!
Luckily for us, technology has increased the potential for good oral health in the long term, even when individuals have not been persistent in their dental care. For the baby boomers that have been away from a dentist or procrastinating and now have several teeth missing with the possibility of losing several more, there are several easy options to restore the full set of functioning teeth and restore the beauty, aesthetics, youthfulness and confidence that we all long for. These options can give immediate results and you will never be without teeth. Many options are very affordable and all restore natural youthful beauty.
Now everyone wants to look as good as they feel. Our health is so much better. -we have better drugs, better knowledge, and better food. People are more confident that they are going to live longer now. The general population is pretty confident that they are going to live to 80 or 90 or even 100, and they’re going to be good years, so they want to look as young as they feel.
Tips for older adults looking to up their oral hygiene routine:
- Look for a dentist who caters to baby boomers. Many offer discounts on cleanings or time of day discounts. Dentists are least busy mid-day when retirees are free and will offer discounts at those times. We spoke with one dentist that offers all individuals over 60 a 10% discount, $99 flat price for all regular cleanings and an extra 10% off of mid-day appointments.
- Many dentists will offer warranties on all work if the patient returns for regular cleanings.
- For all aging teeth and dental work, home care is enhanced significantly with an ultrasonic toothbrush.