Did you know there is a person currently on this Earth that is going to live to 150 years old? My financial advisor mentioned that when my son was born 7 years ago, his predicted life expectancy was 126 years old. Now let’s hope that’s with a high quality of life. Currently, the average life expectancy for a male is 78 and 82 for a female. I have a few patients in their 90s and one that is 101 years old. She has all of her teeth except 4 and she’s very proud of that fact. I recently saw her in my office because she had a bridge that broke. The teeth that the bridge attached to had quite a bit of decay which the why the bridge broke. So we talked about extracting those decayed teeth and making a partial or removing the decay, restoring the teeth, and making a new bridge. The second option was about twice as expensive and was going to be tough to afford for someone on a fixed income. But when I asked her what she wanted to do, she didn’t give it a second thought. She said the reason she’s lived so long with a high quality of life is because she can smile, talk, and chew. So we restored her teeth and made her a new bridge. She commented that she feels great and ready for the next 100 years.
Back in the 1950s, Dr. Charles Mayo (surgeon general and who the Mayo clinic was named after) wrote that one of the most important things a patient can do for their overall health is to keep their teeth healthy. Research has found that when a person has a full healthy dentition, the average life expectancy increases 7-10 years. So, no matter what age you are, one of your primary focuses should be your dental health.
No matter what material I use to fix a broken down tooth, on average it will need to be replaced around 10 years. Yes, there are fillings and crowns that are in people’s mouths that have been in for 40 years, but 10 years is the average. Ten small fillings turn into ten bigger fillings which turn into ten crowns in about 30-40 years after the initial filling. Are you hearing this mr. and mrs. 20 year old. Then we need to replace any teeth which couldn’t be fixed with an implant. But the beauty of this perceived sad evolution is that you haven’t missed a healthy, tasty meal in forty years. Your body thanks you every time a chewed up piece of food hits your stomach because it’s easier to digest, not to mention all the heartburn you’ve avoided. So the next time you hang your head because your dentist tells you that you need a crown and you have to put off the trip to Cancun, remember that with healthy teeth, you’ll have the chance to take more trips to Cancun, hang out more with your grand kids, and enjoy a good steak.