I was pleased to see the headline “Brushing up on good oral health” (Tribune Herald, Sept. 26), but I was troubled by the subtitle “New program aims to reach 9,000 Big Island seniors next year.”
It is my opinion that such a program should be aimed at young children, along with their parents. If people have not taken proper care of their teeth during their whole life, then by the time they are seniors their teeth will have decayed to the point where they are beyond repair.
I will take myself as an example. I am now 80 years old. My parents were well-educated and conscious about good health practices, so I was taught as a child that I must brush my teeth every day, and I did this quite regularly. I realized only much later that I was not taught how to do this correctly: I was only brushing the outside of the teeth, and I was not removing plaque and food from the inside surfaces and between the teeth. Neither my parents nor I had regular visits to the dentist for tooth-cleaning and examinations.
By the time I started graduate school, I decided to visit a dentist, and lo and behold, I had a bunch of huge cavities in my teeth that were repaired by the dentist. I still did not know how to clean my teeth properly. And I was still not visiting a dentist on a regular basis.
Finally, I developed a huge case of gingivitis — my gums were sore and bleeding. At this point I was 27, and fortunately I was working in Boston, just a few steps from Harvard Dental School, where there was a clinic open to the public. Here, a lot of work was done on my gums and teeth, and I was taught how to take care of my teeth properly
I have done my best to follow their instructions, and I am happy that I have not ended up like my mother, who had to have a complete denture in her early 60s. My father had obviously rotten teeth in his mouth by the time he was my age, and he died just short of his 81st birthday. I have observed that many very elderly people who are in good health still have most of their own teeth.
Brush, floss and live long!
Adrienne S. Dey