Teeth

I was in New Zealand not tooo long ago, last year May to be exact. My friend that I stayed with organized an evening out with his Boss. I was looking forward to meeting some of the locals even if they were more affluent than local.The Boss guy was from Wales and made his way to New Zealand after university some 40 years ago. Nice guy, hard working from the working class, was very poor but is no longer. His wife was a New Zealander. We were all chatting through our drinks and enjoying the flavor of the evening. Someone asked me what I did and instead of saying that I'm an artist I told them that I take care of elderly people. That always seems to open up hours of conversation. Anyway, he made a comment about how much trouble it must be to take care of the old people's teeth. I had the pleasure of telling him that teeth were never an issue and he looked very surprised. I could tell pretty quickly that he had false teeth and since his teeth are an issue for him he might think they'd be an issue for other people. In my case however, this is never the case. In the 15 years that I've been taking care of people, managing dentures has never been on my list of duties. Now he was probably 65ish and his wife about the same. I told him that all of the centenarians I take care of still have their own teeth. They may be discolored and chipped, some missing, but they are still very usable. I took care of a women who was 105. She had all of her teeth, didn't wear diapers, was still reading books and only used a walker outside her apartment. A man I took care of was 102 and he still had all of his teeth. A woman I'm with now is 101 and she has most of her teeth.When I started thinking about it everyone I take care of is very rich and grew up very rich. They had access to the best medical and dental care from very early on. I mean think about it.... dental schools can't be any older than medical schools.

Harvard's school of dentistry was founded in 1867 and is one of the oldest in the country. Give the practice time to mature and we're now in the early 1900s. The people I take care of were born in the 19teens and 1920's. So who was seeing dentists regularly back then? Wealthy educated people. I was reading a bit about the history of dentistry and copied this quote from the wikipedia page: "Poverty is also a significant social determinant for oral health.[45] Dental caries have been linked with lower socio-economic status and can be considered a disease of poverty. [46" Education brings an awareness of dental care and who have been the most educated? the most wealthy.

Their teeth maybe a frightful color by now but at least they have them and can use them. With today's deep focus on health, dental care included, I am sure to see my peers with strong healthy sets of teeth well into their 90s. With all of the vitamins and teeth whitening products available and the need to look as young as we feel I have a sense that our teeth will look fantastic and be strong until our dying breath. We'll be eating steak and chomping on shrimp and apples well into our 90s. Our dental plans will insure the proper maintenance and all the flossing we have become accustomed to will provide the essential at home care. 

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