'Gum disease leading cause of tooth loss'
Wexford-based dentist Dr Robin Foyle has been practising for 25 years. He is president-elect for the Irish Dental Association and says dentistry has fundamentally changed over the decades.
"When I began practice in Wexford most people over 65 had no teeth and wore dentures. Most of my work for this age group in the mid 90s was making dentures. Now, more than 20 years later, I can't remember when I last made a full set for a patient; almost all of them have a functioning set of teeth." Although lots of people seek cosmetic treatments like whitening and veneers, which have exploded in popularity, Dr Foyle says the real success is far more basic. "While cosmetic dentistry is more in the spotlight, what's under the radar is that more people are holding on to their teeth for longer, quite often for life."
Extractions too, are on the wane. "Nowadays I would probably remove more teeth for orthodontic purposes than for decay."
But challenges remain. "Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss. Regular check ups and scaling (cleaning the hard deposits built up under the gums) of teeth are very effective at preventing it."