These days everyone knows how to get the healthiest teeth. You brush and floss daily, and visit Dr. Wells on a regular basis! Avoid really sugary and acidic foods that can wear down your tooth enamel. But in decades past we didn’t have the information about oral hygiene that we do today, and many didn’t have access to what information had been discovered.

This lack of information in the past has led to a large occurrence of people over the age of 55 who regret the oral health care decisions of their past. It is estimated that six out of ten people over the age of 55 regret past oral health care decisions that have led them to less than healthy mouths today.

The study was conducted by the British Dental Health Foundation as part of the UK’s National Smile Month. The charity organization found that about one in five Brits have full or partial dentures and around 2.5 million people have no natural teeth. This number is still far higher than it should be, though it has significantly improved over recent decades. It was estimated in 1968 that about a third of adults had no natural teeth.

The Chief Executive of the charity in charge of this study, Dr. Nigel Carter, said “There is a very strong message from older people that not looking after oral health when young can lead to a lifetime of regrets. Our teeth and smile are important to many aspects of our life and cannot be taken for granted.” Perhaps this sentiment is being passed down to today’s younger generations by the older generations who have been through the heartache of losing their natural teeth.

This may be reflected in further results from the charity’s study, which has shown that today’s youth are more self-conscious about the look of their teeth than any other age group surveyed. In addition to being the most image-conscious group of all, the 16-24 age bracket also reports the greatest increase in self-conscious perception of teeth in the last five years.

Dr. Carter thinks that this self-conscious attitude is a good thing. “It is interesting to note that younger people are the most image conscious age group when it comes to how teeth look and hopefully this will lead to more improvements in oral health in future generations,” he said.

Dr Carter went on to say that “A good oral health routine needs to start from the arrival of the very first milk tooth and continue throughout life. Our National Smile Month campaign hopes to remind everyone about the three simple rules for great oral health: brush teeth for two minutes twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste; cut down on how often you have sugary foods and drinks; and visit your dentist regularly, as often as they recommend.

“People who have lost teeth and who wear dentures also need to maintain high standards of oral health, especially to protect any remaining natural teeth. Dentures should be cleaned twice a day like normal teeth and kept moist at all times.”

Hopefully with the new wealth of information available to people in this decade we will see a significant decline in oral health issues as the decades wear on. More and more people are seeing their dentists regularly than ever before, and if we continue at this rate we may even find a day when dentures are a thing of the past!

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