Keep Smiling

When we’re children and taken to the dentist, he/she always advised us to brush our teeth twice a day, floss at least once a day and see our dentist twice a year for check-ups. If we followed out dentist’s advice, hopefully we wouldn’t have any cavities. Well, depending on how much candy we ate. I managed to make it to thirteen years old before I got my first cavity. This made me more diligent with my dental care which has paid off over the years with very few cavities. However, five root canals (on the same tooth), thanks to an incompetent dentist in Jakarta, which eventually led to an implant. I feel fortunate to have survived so little dental work over the years. However, I know many people who haven’t been so lucky.

Having lived in Indonesia on and off for nearly twenty years I’ve seen the dental clinics improve by leaps and bounds. Now many clinics In Bali offer state of the art service and equipment with dental tourism becoming a booming business. You can now rest assured of having your pearly whites treated with superb and professional care equal to the standards back home in your native country, at a fraction of the cost!


Why do seniors need more dental care?

Most Baby Boomers maintained their dental health throughout their lives with only a small percentage aged sixty having lost their teeth. This is primarily due   to having good health care insurance during their work lives. However, many pensioners no longer have a dental care plan, which has resulted in fewer visits to the dentists. But as we get older our teeth require more care than when we were younger.

Many seniors are on some kind of prescription medication such as blood pressure tablets, cholesterol lowering tablets and anti-depressants. These medicines cause a gradual drying up of the mouth called xerostomia. Signs of this are things like teeth are more sensitive, a few fillings and crowns seem to be required and the teeth are getting more worn down. The gaps around the teeth are getting larger with a lot of food getting caught. We find we need to floss more even if we struggle with arthritis in our fingers.

In our genial years, we may enjoy a bottle of wine or beer in the evening and a few cups of tea or coffee during the day. These drinks reduce our saliva flow which has a huge impact on our oral health. If you notice your mouth is drier and are taking some medication, talk to your doctor about changing medication that will have less impact on your saliva production.

Our bones, like our teeth are becoming more brittle as we chip and break them more often these days. Many people still have many mercury amalgam fillings from our teens and twenties that are now breaking down and requiring more visits to the dentist to replace them with crowns, partial dentures, bridges or implants.


What can we do to prevent dental problems?

Even in our older years, it’s still very important to see your dentist regularly. A dental check-up every six months will allow your dentist to monitor every change your mouth goes through and how your lifestyle impacts your oral health.

If your dentist tells you that your gums are diseased you may need to see a periodontist. Even moderate to severe periodontal disease is known now to cause a number of serious life threatening diseases which include:

  • Heart attack and stroke (you are more likely to die from a heart attack or stroke if you have advanced periodontal disease than if you have high cholesterol levels)
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis
  • Kidney disease
  • Pneumonia
  • Increased risk of breast cancer in post-menopausal women


Now, research has also found a link between Alzheimer’s disease and poor oral health.

Although periodontal disease is preventable and treatable it is one of the leading chronic diseases in Canada, America and the world. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey study found 70% of adults older than 65 had periodontal disease. If periodontal prevention programs were part of national health programs, it could potentially have a huge impact in reducing overall health care costs.

These are the most common problems effecting the teeth and gums of seniors. We can reduce the impact of many of these problems by attending our dentist regularly and having our teeth thoroughly cleaned.

Your daily tooth brushing can be done with either a traditional toothbrush or an electric toothbrush.   Numerous general population studies and systematic reviews have shown the superior benefits of the use of an oscillating-rotating electric toothbrush in daily plaque removal and improvements in oral inflammation when compared to a manual toothbrush. Recommendations for the use of these electric brushes could be of major benefit to the senior population as we age and potentially lose some of our manual dexterity.


Where can you find a good dentist in Bali?

Of course no one wants to travel very far to find a good dentist that you don’t need to book an appointment with weeks in advance, so I’ve compiled a list of reputable dental clinics in each area to save you time. Google also helps a great deal. These clinics I’ve personally reviewed and found them to be very reliable.

  • ARC Dental Clinic – Kuta – has an in-house German technology lab
  • Bali International Dental Clinic – Denpasar – A long- time favourite of many ex-pats with Dr. Sucipto
  • 911 Dental Clinic – Kuta (Bali Galeria) and Denpasar has a large team of dentists
  • Radiance Dental Clinic – Tuban
  • Rejuvie Dental Clinic – Kuta
  • Ultimo Dental Clinic – Seminyak
  • The Mansion Resort & Spa in Ubud is very popular with expats
  • Sunset Dental Bali – Seminyak & Ubud


Teeth whitening

Everybody wants to have a bright white smile but drinking tea, coffee, red wine or eating some food will stain your teeth. There’s a new company called The Teeth Whitener Bali which was developed by a dentist using 6% hydrogen peroxide gel and blue LED laser light. This is safe and pain free for people with sensitive teeth. I was skeptical having very sensitive teeth but was pleasantly surprised to undergo three 20 minutes sessions without pain with the result of my teeth being 12 shades whiter! This is typical of 12 shades whiter in only one hour. Although there’s no dentist on site, the staff were very professional, making sure to coat the gums and lips with vitamin E oil before each round of whitening. They also have a tooth whitening powder made with 100% natural ingredients to keep your smile bright and their own blue cylinder of vitamin enriched toothpaste gel to whiten your teeth. Very impressive! Located on Raya Kerobokan. Facebook & Instagram the teethwhitenerbali. T:089656300337


By Shari

The Boomer Corner is a column dedicated to people over 60 living in Bali. Its mandate is to cover topics, practicalities, activities, issues, concerns and events related to senior life in Bali. We welcome suggestions from readers.

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