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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Column: We’ll take our secrets – and our teeth – to the grave

My boomer friends and I talk sometimes about our teeth.

It’s come to this – conversations about teeth. But you start to talk about your teeth, and it’s amazing where the conversation leads.

Some of us have developed late-onset dental anxiety. Take it from me. If you listen to your iPod during dental cleaning, you relax.

Boomers will likely be the first generation – in large numbers – who are able to keep their teeth to the grave, unless they neglected orthodontia in their younger years due to money concerns (dental work is expensive, even with insurance) or out of fear of dental work.

We boomers share stories of grandparents who wore dentures that clicked or fell out of alignment in their mouths while they ate. We feel fortunate this won’t be the case with us – or so we hope.

One recent morning, some boomer buddies and I worried about our dentists retiring in the next few years. It’s hard to bond (pun intended) with a new dentist and his or her staff. Also, when you are bonded with a longtime dentist and call with dental emergencies (which can increase with age) the dentists often go out of their way to fix your problem.

The same day as the discussion above, I got a letter from Kathryn Aguilar, 70. She wanted to sing the praises of her dentist.

She wasn’t trying to drum up business for him; sounds like he’s busy enough. She just wanted to compliment him. I wouldn’t have understood this 10 years ago, but now I do.

So I’ll let her praise. I’m just using the dentist’s initials, because if I use his name, I might hear from dentists and their staffs wondering why I don’t highlight their good work, too.

Here’s what Aguilar told me about her dentist, Dr. S.W.

“Five years ago, Labor Day weekend, my husband and I were preparing to leave for vacation in Italy. A troublesome molar flared up overnight, and I called our family dentist, S.W. He and his wife met me in their office, and after X-rays, extracted my tooth. We went to Italy two days later and had a wonderful, pain-free time.

“Fast forward five years and on Labor Day weekend, 2013, we are preparing to leave for France. Another pesky tooth flared, and I called our dentist and told him I was again in great pain. Another trip to his office, another rescue by him and his wife. What a great guy! What a super wife!

“On my return, I told S.W: ‘I think we are going to stop these international trips. I’m running out of teeth!”

POST HANG-UP CHATTER: Not sure our culture has yet come up with a phrase that describes this phenomenon. You say goodbye on a cellphone call and don’t hit “end” quickly enough so you hear what the other person says about the call when he or she thinks you have already hung up. It can be flattering or embarrassing or both.

Do you have a phrase you’d suggest to describe this?

AARP STATE STATS: In a recent AARP study of Washington residents ages 45-64, a quarter of the respondents say they have less than $25,000 in savings, and 45 percent do not have any retirement account assets at all.

COMFORTABLE SHOES: Even in my teens and early 20s, I couldn’t wear heels. My feet would bark after an hour in high heels. I owned several pair of “one-hour” shoes which I wore to weddings and other social events.

I often ended up barefoot by the end of the night, those torture shoes kicked under the table.

I recently bought a pair of comfortable low-heeled shoes. I thought they were pretty cute, too, but my husband looked at them and said: “Margaret Thatchers.”

So here is my question and challenge. As boomer women’s feet finally rebel against heels of all heights, why haven’t shoe manufacturers created a truly comfortable heel that also looks terrific? Is it an engineering impossibility?


• “Bold-Spirited Travelers” – talk by Linda and Jim Hunt, drawing on their respective books about historic figures John Muir, America’s leading environmental thinker, and Helga Estby, active citizen and suffragette, Thursday, 7 p.m., North Spokane Library, 44 E. Hawthorne Road, (509) 893-8350.

• “Haunted Zombie Hikes,” Friday and Saturday, 6:30-9 p.m., (and again Oct. 25 and 26) in Riverside State Park near the equestrian area at 3402 N. Aubrey L. White Parkway. Call for directions if needed at (509) 465-5064.

• Zumba with Sandy – designed for boomers and beginners and gentle on backs, hips and knees, five-week session starts Oct. 21, Audubon Park Masonic Lodge, 2821 Northwest Blvd. For more information, call (509) 270-0053.

For more events, go to