Look after your teeth: tiny tip for a happy, healthy old age

photo of a glass of water, dental floss and toothbrush

Even the most basic dental care pays off

Wow, this is a very specific and useful tip for which I thank Lifecameos. Dental care is easily overlooked when we are young and free from the nagging of parents. And basic preventive care is either free (avoid sugary drinks, stop constant snacking, drink water) or not too expensive (clean teeth twice a day and floss at least once). Dental work costs, but so does avoidance of dental work.

Q. Imagine a younger person telling you they want to achieve a happy, healthy old age. Give your very best tip, in 30 words or fewer.
A. Look after your teeth. Otherwise they will either cost you much money or cause you long lasting agonising pain.

Q. Why did you choose to share that particular tip?
A. My teeth are costing me heaps and I wish I had been respectful of them all these years.

Q. Did you follow any advice that you were given about achieving a happy, healthy old age?
A. No. I was so busy earning a living and thought it did not matter.

Q. How old are you?
A. 65–74


19 thoughts on “Look after your teeth: tiny tip for a happy, healthy old age

  1. Sadje says:

    This is so true.

  2. Ha, Rachel. I wrote a six thousand word essay on ‘my teeth’ which was shortlisted for the Landfall essay competition some years back. My essay kind of charts the social history of the dental nurses in NZ, antibiotic use in the 60’s, and my fabulous good fortune to be flatting in Edinburgh in the early 70’s and become a practice patient (free dentistry) at the Edinburgh School of Dentistry – the bridge and caps they created for me, are still intact. I once had a young locum (in her mid to late 40’s), marvel that my dental bridge was older than she was. Yep… look after your teeth. Back then, I was told by the Head of the School, to save my bridge, I should floss daily.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      How terrific on all fronts. Student practitioners must have been closely supervised to have done such good work I think 🤔 flossing in the 70s? Way advanced

      1. Ha, I had the head of the department do the work while the students observed… so I was fortunate…

      2. Rachel McAlpine says:

        A dream gig.

  3. Elizabeth says:

    So many other health problems can come from neglected teeth. This is very important.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Including brain problems I believe

      1. Elizabeth says:

        That makes some sense.

  4. Good advice, sadly often neglected!

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      I’ve known otherwise sane adults avoid the dentist for years! For lack of courage. It’s so much less painful now

  5. Excellent advice. I am very lucky to have healthy teeth (my dentist says that I have “good saliva”) but that doesn’t mean that I scrimp on their daily care.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Good saliva gives my son an unfair advantage

  6. Cathy Cade says:

    I’m reminded of a verse from the ’70s from British comic poet Pam Ayres called ‘Oh, I wish I’d looked after me teeth.”
    My bottom teeth resemble a jumble of untended gravestones. There are too many for the space available, but back in my youth dentists didn’t take out healthy teeth. It was expected that they’d fall out soon enough. One of my wisdom teeth only fully emerged a few years agn (post-retirement) when my gums receded far enough to expose it.
    On my last x-ray one on tooth each side was seen to be rootless; I think their close neighbours each side are holding them in. Having suffered toothache for the first weeks of December I’m sure more roots have withered from the infection but the teeth are still all hanging in there.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Ouch, ouch. But they are working! In my mouth gum did ease is ever lurking to pounce. I remember that poem!)

  7. By the time my mom was 70 she had to have all her teeth extracted and fake ones made. They were never comfortable (this was before implants). She always said, “Don’t let them pull your teeth!” I learned from her pain and discomfort over the years. I have all my teeth (in my 70s) and haven’t had a cavity or other issue in 30 years. Prior to that I had root canals and crowns which were expensive so I really take care these days. From having cats I learned that an infection in your teeth can affect other organs, especially kidneys.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      A bitter lesson indeed. (My parents had false teeth from their–30s? Early, anyway. It was the norm! Exclamation mark justified. I’m so glad the lesson worked on you.

  8. I grew up in the days of no-novacaine, and I had lots of cavities as a kid. I still get high blood pressure when I even have to go get them cleaned. By the time I was in my 30’s, I had so much “silver” in my teeth, that we began crowns. AT 78, most of my teeth are crowned, but all of them have been magnificently done, and many are still the ones I got in the ’70’s! But I guard them with my life!! Not only because I still hate getting dental work done, but also…it’s danged expensive!!! Nothing like shelling out a few hundred to motivate this gal! My husband had dentures and convinced me that that is not where I want to wind up!

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      You just told my story, almost. It was the times. Compounded in New Zealand by a lack of fluoride in the water. My children, given a pre-junk-food diet and a toothbrush, have had no such problems.

  9. Oh yes, had I but understood what havoc my teeth would cause later on in life, I would have taken so much better care of them when younger! It sounds trivial, but it is not.