It’s easy to make excuses for skipping a dental checkup if you aren’t experiencing any problems. But regular checkups are important to stay on top of oral health. Skipping checkups can exacerbate existing problems that you aren’t aware of yet. And even if your teeth are in perfect health, checkups can prevent future problems from developing.
Unfortunately, this is a message that seniors haven’t quite gotten: More than half of older Americans haven’t had a dental checkup in the last year.
Statistics Show Seniors are Skipping the Dentist
Recent research into national survey data shows that millions of Americans aged 65 or older aren’t getting dental checkups with the recommended frequency. This is especially dangerous for seniors, since many dental conditions appear or worsen with age.
The tendency to skip dental checkups is strongly correlated with concern over the cost, and yet Americans are noticeably less likely to skip other medical checkups. Research also shows that people are more likely to ditch the dentist due to cost than any other type of health care.
Fortunately, the number of people who are choosing not to go to the dentist because of cost is decreasing, and has been since the early 2000s — but 50% is still a staggering statistic.
Dentistry Shouldn’t Be Dismissed
It may be that many consider dental care as optional, even while they consider other medical care as necessary. But dental health care is just as important to your whole-body health as any other specialty.
For example, one part of a standard dental checkup is an oral cancer screening. Your dentist is constantly on the lookout for signs that you could be one of the tens of thousands of Americans with oral cancer every year. While oral cancer can have as high as a 90% survival rate if it’s caught early, without regular screenings, oral cancer could progress to more dangerous stages undetected.
Additionally, pneumonia may be able to strike anyone, but it’s particularly dangerous for the elderly and the immunocompromised. Those same seniors who are skipping the dentist are increasing their risk of pneumonia, considering that people who get twice annual dental checkups are 86% less likely to contract the disease.
Speaking of disease, gum disease, which affects almost half of adults, has been linked to everything from breast cancer to rheumatoid arthritis to kidney disease to heart risks. And that’s not to mention the fact that easily solvable dental problems, such as cavities and plaque, can spiral into expensive, painful conditions if left untreated.
Dr. Kenneth Siegel, DMD doesn’t think tooth loss and dental disease has to be an inherent part of growing old. That’s why we’re pleased to provide senior dentistry services that are especially for patients in Blue Bell, PA who are fifty and older. No matter what state your oral health is currently in, Dr. Siegel can restore your mouth, improve your oral health, and help you keep your teeth for years to come.