Common Dental Issues Of The Over 60s
Common Dental Issues Of The Over 60s
The immortal George Carlin said it best: “… So, you become 21. Turn 30. Push 40. Reach 50 and make it to 60.”
To Rolling Stone, Ozzy Osbourne reckons, “I’m here for a purpose. So many of my past friends are no longer here. And when you’re riding the crest of the wave, you think you’re there forever but you’re not.”
Could be a tooth talking. One that emerged in the ‘60s, beautiful and fully formed after the funny little former tenants left. Or were evicted by a burly doorknob and his stringy offsider. A tooth that knew it all by the ‘70s. Perfected it in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Blunted and unsure over the last 30 years, but doesn’t want to end up like some mates did.
Very close, some of them. And then not at all. Like Hadley Richardson and Pauline Pfeiffer.
Getting older, as they say, is not for the faint-hearted. Or those with heart of feint, to be honest. It won’t at all help understand, deal, counter and negotiate with this unexpected physical onslaught (offslaught) you’ve prepared for since never, that lands with the thud of an 18-foot, 1500lb marlin, twenty-two minutes after the birthday candles are blown out.
Hemingway’s Pulitzer Prize novella has Santiago in a three-day struggle, landing the catch of his life and more than just bringing a long, unsuccessful fishing streak to an end. Were he to size up the story aura, Mick Dundee would grin his that’s-not-a-marlin-that’s-a-marlin directly at the fish: all optimism, hope and desire; skill, destruction and struggle.
Wholly usual suspects in works of a wordsmith whose man is not made for defeat.
To suggest that the story is symbolic, is to weigh in with the ideal opponent. That which is matched in respect, strength, courage and love; along with the sea turtle bycatch of communion, martyrdom, redemption.
The Last Supper is in there too. It has to be. It’s a story about a fish, and to encompass all that, it had to be 1500 pounds.
The Old Man and the Sea as an allegory is complete bunk. According to Hemingway.
“There isn’t any symbolism,” he wrote to Renaissance Art historian and critic Bernard Berenson. “The sea is the sea. The old man is an old man … The sharks are all sharks no better and no worse. All the symbolism that people say is shit. Because the fish is attacked by sharks only an hour after Santiago has landed it and is ultimately destroyed, the meaning of the fish to The Old Man and the Sea expands beyond the pages of the book.”
And, may long live the wonder-comfort of long-lived imperial measurement in literature. Understood by a relevant group who’d already conquered the marvels of measurement and mass in pounds and feet (literally, sometimes). After a while, size and distance make very good and ballpark sense in general automatic.
Then came metric-centric ’74 and it was all over. Imperial was Aramaic to American. Peanut-butter-fingered abacussy to a Sharp Elsie Mate Fluorescent Tube Display Scientific Calculator. It became the language spoken only by the old and lavender.
These treasures kept their bouncy ounces and inchy cachets of yards alongside thrilling sounding shillings, and pecuniary-staving pence. Right up until their five-foot-five frame was in a six-foot box. A life celebrated by the miles of friends in attendance who gathered them up and took them to the other side where they were headed.
In short, metric conversion when personal fluency is in the tongue of another length, means that reverse engineering happens for the remaining life of your brain, with every metre, kilo, gram and millilitre that crosses its mediaeval guide-signed path. Later in life, the likes and other variants of having to think of “oleander” to prompt the sadly original parent-name portmanteau of a step-nephew, follows. (YVM.)
It’s the kind of stuff that happens when you hit your sixth decade of the gravity of the earth and the gravity of life. From thigh slapping, to teeth grinding.
Or teeth chipping and cracking, wearing and discolouring, and gums that recede as quickly and unexpectedly as Billy Squier in the 80s. Who may now be an old man fishing alone in a skiff out of Cabañas …
Life sets us adrift after our 50s no matter what you have or haven’t done. (Yet.)
Teeth start to set adrift as well. Lose their moorings. Get covered in barnacles too expensive to anti-foul. So it’ll be YouTube and Sikaflex until the Greens achieve something in the oral health inclusive on their ‘balance of power’ shortlist in the event of a minority party Parliament.
The Australian Dental Association (ADA) applauds that, and smiles with lovely teeth.
… That you can still have, well after your 60s. Maybe it’s an inability to handle information and procedures on your own, trepidation, fear of the cost whatever it is you’re not alone: check out the ADA’s 55-74-year-old group data, appeasing and appalling at exactly the same time:
51% have gum disease.
32% have untreated tooth decay.
Complete tooth loss from untreated gum disease, 20%; and 22% with fewer than 21 teeth.
You don’t need a laundry list of what you already know. You’re sixty-odd years old. You know the 1954 Nobel Prize winner for literature and you certainly know how to look after your teeth. May a thousand sites can regurgitate it all for you.
Whatever you’re doing about your oral health obviously hasn’t worked yet – you’re still looking up “common dental issues”, sure to find the magic one that’ll make it all okay.
Luckily, you have. The one that tells you just one thing: make a dental appointment. Google is a resource, not a replacement for looking after your teeth. Look those disasters up. You can TikTok teeth terrors if you want a tragic tale.
All of us have made mistakes with the care of them. No regular professional cleans. Missing or not making appointments a hundred times, and not even knowing of a good dentist anymore.
Every dentist is a good one in comparison to the no-one one one has.
Dentists are kind, skilled masters of your mouth. They have amazingly pain-free techniques to start on, work with, or keep improving the all-important state of good oral health. It’s an art. An art that will keep you out of the A&E department – whether it be a septic tooth or cardiac disease, it’s all related to your mouth.
It took three days for Santiago to wrestle his beast, and ain’t none of us not rock stars anymore. We do know that sometimes a fish is just a fish, sharks don’t care, and the tragedy of The Old Man and the Sea is that everyone knows the ending now.
You can never take the Ernest journey of it – the disastrous end has already curled back.
That worst-case scenario that feels so familiar is not necessarily so when it comes to your teeth and gums.
Whatever the proper diagnosis, is rarely as bad as we think.
What we can be, is marking an age of life where focus is spent on, and in, a good state of health that begins with oral care that removes global ageing from a burden, to a major anthropological achievement.
That’s a t-shirt worth wearing.
And a book worth writing.
Note: All content and media on the Sunbury Dental House website and social media channels are created and published online for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be relied on as health or personal advice.
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