health

A Dentist’s Dream

dentist lightWhat dentist wouldn’t want a bunch of baby boomers for patients? A crazy dentist maybe. From the year 2011 to 2030, persons age 65 and over will make up 22% of the U.S. population. That’s going to keep a lot of dentists very busy, and it won’t just be on restorative dentistry and oral surgery.

For most boomers, the teeth take a back seat now to the gums. We were the first fluoride generation, which has helped us to have better dental health than our parents, but 3 out of 4 boomers will develop gum disease. Gingivitis is a more serious concern, along with gum recession and as old fillings in back teeth that are getting tired. Gum disease is still the number one reason why a boomer will lose teeth, so you’ve got to attach the plaque. Brushing twice a day and flossing at least once a day is the minimum care you should take. If you take medications that cause dry mouth you could be at risk for more bacteria, but there are ways to boost saliva output (ask your dentist). dentist chairGood diet and exercise also help, but if you made it this far, you’re already doing that.

Besides living in fear that we are going to lose the use of our chompers, we have the expendible income to spend on such discretionary niceties as caps, whitening, invisible orthodontics, porcelain veneers, etc. So after we get the preservation work out of the way, it’s on to looking good, feeling good. Dentists have already found that when it comes to boomers, vanity and convenience are the prime motivators when it comes to anti-aging strategies. Plus, boomers spend about 1.5 times more annually on personal care products and services than younger adults.

The technology available now makes it possible for dentists to show a patient their current smile, and in time lapse sequence, how it can be improved. How cool is that for people who need to see it before they buy it? According to a Jupiter Research study, windup teeth37 percent of boomers who go online, use the Internet to research health services and providers, so it should come as no surprise that dentists are ramping up the use of technology in their offices.

Perhaps the hottest trend in dentistry is the dental office cum day spa. With so many negative associations to going to the dentist, it’s somewhat surprising that dentists didn’t turn to the spa concept sooner. Why not watch DVDs, get a warm neck pad, and a pedicure without ever leaving the dentist’s chair? From the dentist’s perspective, this is a win-win. All these elective procedures are paid for in cash (even if it’s on someone’s credit card, it’s still cash to the dentist), so there’s no messy insurance to deal with. As more and more dentists turn their offices into day spas, the boomer customer base can only grow larger.

It should get a lot easier for a baby boomer to find a dentist who has converted the pain principle in the pleasure principle. The important thing is to visit your dentist regularly so you can stay one step ahead of gum disease. Chew on that for a while if you want to hang on to your teeth.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

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BoomSpeak - For babyboomers - by babyboomers.