Preview of Your Coming Attractions

When I retired after 40 years of writing columns for the San Jose Mercury News, I figured I'd said about all I could say. Wrong. I've realized that at age 76, I'm about 10 years older than the oldest baby boomers, who are now turning 66. My very average body has had a lot of experiences in those 10 years. I've learned a lot that could be helpful to people just starting on that same path -- what to do, what to avoid, what to keep an eye on.. Consider me your canary-in-the-coalmine for the boomer generation. Tune in regularly for the heads-up advice.

Sunday, January 15, 2012


     I do hope that you had a happier childhood experience with dentists than I had.
     Mine were in the days before fluoride made most tooth decay a thing of the past. I had so-so tooth-brushing habits as a kid, a taste for sweets and, as a result, a mouthful of cavities.
     These were taken care of by a dentist who thought such new developments as Novocain were for sissies. High-speed drills hadn’t been invented yet; his was so slow it could have been powered by a hamster-wheel. It felt as though it was throwing off huge chunks of tooth with every revolution of the seemingly huge burr tip. Rinse-and-spit meant expecting to see the bowl filled with gravel.. My mouth was like a quarry. Those were not happy times.
     And so, since, I’ve been something of a dental-care fanatic. I learned my lesson. My teeth are brushed after every meal. I floss every day. I have checkups twice a year. But still, those sins of my youth continue to catch up with me.
     Aging does that. As I said, I hope your earlier dental experiences were happier than mine. I hope you practiced better dental hygiene. But the ultimate truth is that your teeth age along with the rest of you. Fillings that were put in place years ago crumble, fall out and need to be replaced. Heck, even some of  the teeth themselves (my cavity-damaged ones, particularly) have crumbled and needed to be replaced. I now sport a two-tooth bridge and a dental implant in my otherwise happy smile.
     Hence this warning: Take care of the teeth you have. Don’t put off checkups. Follow regular dental hygiene practices. Use fluoride toothpaste, at the very least. Keep up with the latest dental developments (or make sure that your dentist does).
     Getting older leaves you with a lot of issues to chew on. It’s easier if you have something to chew with.

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