Is your smile ready to go the distance?
Events of 1935:
- Social Security is signed into law by FDR.
- The first major league night baseball game is played.
- X-Box and Play Station didn’t exist... in fact in four years, a novelty called television would be demonstrated at the New York World’s Fair.
These events happened so many years ago, yet the span from these events to today is the average time we expect our teeth to last. In the life expectancy of your smile, some 65 – 75 years, many things that you expect to last will have come and gone. You will have undoubtedly driven several cars, perhaps even purchased several homes, expecting them to last many, many years. These are obviously valuable items, but what about your smile?
For example, if one had tried to maintain a Model T for the last 65-75 years, it is obvious that a regular maintenance plan would need to be adopted. The vehicle would need to be treated with the utmost of care... and we know how few of them are still running today.
Now imagine having to operate that Model T, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for more than seven decades. That is what we expect of our teeth, yet most people don’t maintain their teeth as well as they do their cars. Cars are replaceable... teeth are not!
What can you do?
Think preventively. According to studies, the average life span of a filling is 7-10 years. So, a child who gets a filling at age 10, for example, will on average, visit the dentist perhaps every 10 years to replace the filling again and again. It would be much easier, and less frustrating, to have never gotten the filling at all. Stop problems before they start by adhering to the following:
• Keep your teeth brushed and flossed. Use one of the new high quality electric toothbrushes. These brushes do a much better job of keeping teeth and gums healthy in the average person’s hands. Many brushes offer timers that force people to brush a minimum of two minutes. Time yourself and see how long two minutes of brushing takes. Most people brush less than 30 seconds. Keeping your teeth and gums clean will help prevent cavities and gum disease from starting.
• Fluoride will harden teeth and also prevent cavities from forming. Use fluoridated toothpastes and be sure children drink fluoridated water during their early years.
• Is it easier to clean teeth that are straight? Obviously! Straight teeth are much easier to clean than crowded teeth. In addition, teeth that are properly balanced and aligned will distribute force more evenly, resulting in even wear, decreasing the chances of fracture and TMJ discomfort. You shouldn’t think of orthodontics being just for cosmetic reasons. The benefits of straight teeth are tremendous and should not be underestimated. Investing two years in braces when one is young can yield 60 years of rewards.
• Chewing ice, popcorn kernels, and hard candy can cause cracks and fractures over time. Avoiding these hard objects will greatly decrease dental problems as you age.
* Minimize sugars and acidic drinks as much as possible.
• Finally, visit your dentist every six months for a cleaning and checkup. It is much easier and less painful to catch a problem early than to wait until a tooth breaks. Catch cavities early, and even try to prevent them with the use of sealants that prevent cavities from forming on the biting surfaces of teeth.
Remember... think PREVENTIVELY!!! 75 years is a long time... take care of your teeth, so your smile will “go the distance!”