Over the last several years, I’ve begun seeing a number of patients from Valencia Lakes, a high-end active adult community near Sun City Center. These patients are in their 60s and 70s and care deeply about their health and their appearance. They are active, vibrant, and stylish, just like they were in their 20s.
This isn’t uncommon for people of their generation. The New York Times recently published an article titled Vanity Is Not a Deadly Sin. It’s One of Life’s Last Vital Signs that explored this trend. The reporter spoke with several seniors who find that keeping up their appearance is just a part of their overall good health.
Dentistry is the perfect example of what they seek out. It’s not just about function, it’s about persevering their overall appearance to maintain their sense of style.
92-Year-Old Patient Requests Dental Implant
The article reminded me of a 92-year-old patient I see. She is active and stylish and her hair and makeup are always done perfectly. A few months ago, she broke a veneer on her front tooth and came in to have it fixed. However, it was broken in a way that the tooth couldn’t be repaired. It needed to be removed and replaced with a partial or bridge.
She didn’t like this idea and requested that we do an implant. To her, a bridge wasn’t attractive and she didn’t want it to negatively affect her smile. Now typically, a dentist wouldn’t consider an implant for someone in their 90s. But after talking through it with her, we decided it was the best option for her.
The truth is, while an implant seems like an invasive option there’s no reason it cannot be done on a patient in their 90s. It’s a procedure that’s very well tolerated and much less invasive than say, a hip replacement.
A new way of approaching age
This patient and others like her have made me reexamine how I care for individuals in their 70s, 80s and 90s. I now offer them the same choices that I offer younger patients, because I know that keeping up their appearance is important to them. To them, dental care is not just a matter of maintaining dental function. Keeping an attractive smile is a matter of self-preservation.
This means that we must explore sustainable and aesthetically pleasing treatments when the patient is in their 50s and 60s. With the overall goal being that the patient’s teeth will outlive them. If appearance is important to a patient, it’s my job as a dentist to ensure that we choose the best option for them in both function and appearance – no matter their age.
If you’re worried about the appearance of your dental work as you age, call our office to set up a consultation. It’s my goal to create a beautiful smile that will age with you.