More than 10,000 people retire every day in the U.S., and as the adventure of retirement begins, it often means the end of enjoying dental benefits. But your dentist in Oregon City, Dr. Brett Johnson, wants patients to know that maintaining quality oral health during retirement means just as much to your overall health as taking care of any other part of the body. More importantly, enjoying quality oral health during our senior years can actually help retires save money.
Even the most basic dental coverage is not available through Medicare or the soon to be repealed Affordable Care Act, and private policies that help supplement dental costs can be very expensive, especially for those now on a fixed budget. As a result, over 70 percent of retiring baby boomers embark on their golden years without dental coverage. This marks a significant problem as that means a large portion of U.S. seniors will no longer receive the regular dental care they need to ensure a heathy mouth and body.
New Problems for an Older Generation
As science and technology continue to advance, people have begun to live much longer today than at any other point in human history. An extra 30 years have been added to the life expectancy of adults in the U.S. in less than a century. Baby boomers are now living, on average, 34 years longer than their grandparents. With seniors living longer, the notion that oral health only matters when younger no longer applies.
Failing to maintain and protect your oral health can cause poor health overall. The inability to properly chew can lead to the development of malnutrition, oral discomfort, social isolation due to embarrassment, speech impediments, and is a contributing factor to a number of chronic diseases that include dementia, stroke, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Considering the widespread issues that poor oral health can contribute to, continuing to receive regular dental care every 6 months actually rates as one of the most important cost savings habits retires can maintain.
Despite the benefits offered by continued oral care, seniors make up less than 1/3 of the patients dentists see each year in the U.S.
Protecting Senior Oral Health
Continue the practice of receiving regular oral care should begin immediately following retirement because that’s when most seniors’ oral health is in the best condition. The majority of baby boomers have received regular dental care throughout most their lives and go into retirement maintaining the majority of their teeth. Since many lose their dental care once they retire, a drop off occurs where many seniors stop visiting the dentist as normal. This is a big mistake.
Cleanings every three to six months not only help prevent the development of major problems, it also allows Dr. Johnson to spot any potential problems early on while still easily treatable. Failing to catch oral health problems during the early stages only increase the risk of needing far more expensive treatments like implants, root canals, and dentures to correct.
Skipping regular checkups can also have a big impact on an individual’s overall health when a failure to receive care allows gum infections and periodontal disease to worsen. When harmful oral bacteria are allowed to grow unchecked below the gum line – areas of the mouth a toothbrush cannot clean but are what dental hygienists focus on cleaning during dental appointments – infections begin to develop. As an infection slowly grows, eating away at the supporting gum tissue and bone that provide the base for your teeth, so too does a patient’s risk of disease and permanent tooth loss.
For many seniors, visiting a dentist in Oregon City may seem like an expense they can easily cut from their budget. However, an ounce of preventative dentistry can save a ton of money when it comes to maintaining our health as we grow older.