Glen: Hello, I am here with Dr. Vincent Mack. Dr. Mack you have been a dentist for how long now?
Dr. Mack: I have been in practice now for 27 years since 1987.
Glenn: I have a lot of questions and I focus on people after the age of fifty.
Dr. Mack: I happen to be 51 so I am right there. Right with you.
Glenn: What kind of challenges are people who are over 50 having to face now that they have not had to face in the past? What should they be more concerned with?
Dr. Mack: I have seen a lot of change in practice over the last 20+ years. What we are taught in dental school is really different from what we see in the real world. People are keeping their teeth longer now and they are being given more choices in how they retain their teeth or replace their teeth. Especially now with the advent of dental implants.
Glenn: Are dental implants reserved for people who have not taken care of their teeth?
Dr. Mack: An implant is a replacement of a tooth where a metallic root form is placed in the jaw structure. If you lost a tooth and you need a denture or removable appliance or bridgework, we are now able to parcel back individual teeth where the teeth are anchored to the bone. Things that I was taught 30 years ago no longer apply now in the cases of the average adult. We have a much great grip on what helps people keep their teeth altogether.
Glenn: So what are some of those recommendations?
Dr. Mack: We are looking at factual information called evidence based science. They are doing actual studies that are validated and truthful and they are showing what are the things that actually work for the population. We know for a fact that those people who are at risk for gum disease if they get actual cleanings, they are keeping their teeth longer. More frequency of cleanings make people healthier in general.
Glenn: Is living the last half of your life mean that your gums are more important?
Dr. Mack: The important thing is the bone. If you can maintain the bone level it’s almost more of an important commodity than the teeth. If you lose a tooth due to fracture you can still put a tooth back. The emphasis for fifty and older is keeping your teeth clean and bones strong. That is the real goal here. We used to say let’s wait until the teeth are old and extract. Now, we say lets take the tooth a bit early so we can save the bone.
Glenn: What causes the bone to deteriorate?
Dr. Mack: I have seen most people who have reasonable home care but pretty much genetic. There are health issues that affect bone level like diabetes. The main thrust is general wellness and hygiene. If those are in good fashion, then you can maximize your own potential.
Glenn: Hygiene? What does that entail?
Dr. Mack: Brushing, flossing, and nutrition and outlook on life. For example, if you eat certain foods some areas become more positive effect on the wellness of your life. You are what you eat. So the nutritional aspect is one thing that plays into your teeth. But also lifestyle is a key factor. Relieving stress and keeping your immune system jacked up.
Lifestyle and Nutrition Are Keys to Lifelong Wellness
Glenn: Wellness plays into everything.
Dr. Mack: The people that are involved and active. You don’t have to be a sports star, just people who get up and even walk their dog. They have something to do every day. They have something to share. It gives you something to share with other people and to be social and it raises your immune system. It creates you to be energized and hungrier.
Glenn: Do you see evidence of this in your patience?
Dr: Oh yes. In the local community most athletes I am familiar with, especially the ones that participate in the local races, the fastest ones are in the 50 plus category. They are healthy, social and active and all of those things combined can make a difference. When you think about teeth you don’t want to lose them on a socioeconomic scale. People will look at you if you have a missing front tooth. People judge. A lot want to bleach their teeth too.
Glenn: if someone didn’t take care of their mouth is it possible for someone to die from infections?
Dr: Yes. For the particular group of patients I have, I don’t typically see that. Patients will come in with facial swelling or pain. Third world countries, we will see horrible dental problems. They have difficulty getting treatment. Dental decay is the world’s leading dental infection. There is cancer, heart attack, diabetes, dental decay is leading the world in infection.
Glenn: What are some of the most important do nots? Like chewing tobacco?
Dr: Yes, of course. The nicotine and the toxins and the snuff can deteriorate the enzymes that are good for you. Smoking can contribute to oral problems. Excessive alcohol. It dries your body and mouth out. You think because alcohol can kill bacteria, but there are other problems. Some of the beverages can stain teeth as well.
Glenn: Are you seeing that more often now, staining of the teeth?
Dr: Yes. The teeth that are prone to infection, I will see with the red wine drinker. If there is tarter, it will stain it easily. Coffee, tea, red wine, caramel color beverages, can cause the stains.
Glenn: Are there any over the counter whitening products you recommend?
Dr: Well, sure. It depends on what the goal is. If someone has an aggressive stain, baking soda toothpaste has been around a long time. The sand and oxygen technique is good. Higher fluoride levels can be beneficial. All natural ingredient toothpastes like Tom’s toothpaste. Toothpaste is the most common vein that we understand. That is if you brush your teeth you are making progress. People who floss, are cleansing their mouths but also have been considered to be healthier and can live longer. Men who floss are going to live longer. People who floss seem to be more disciplined. There is a correlation there.
Glenn: Any other tidbits?
Dr: Dentistry is exciting. We want to keep our teeth healthy but we also want to look good. People who take care of themselves are happier. If you take care of your mouth and body, there is no reason why you can’t live a decent life. Everything in moderation. I try to encourage to my patients that they should do the same things. If we can get a grip on the stress, our bodies will be healthier and our teeth will follow suit with that. We are living longer than ever. 78 is the average. You are never too old to socialize and visit with friends. The people who have difficulty with this are people who struggle with dental problems. If we can keep them from coming into that, then they will be better off in the long run.
Glenn: It’s been a pleasure talking with you Dr. Thank you very much.
Dr: Sure, thank you.