Tooth loss is a major health problem in the USA

Tooth loss is a major health problem in the USA

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Silent Epidemic Among older Americans

Tooth loss is a major health problem in the USA

According with the American Academy of Implant Dentistry (AAID), an estimated two in three Americans have one or more missing teeth, mainly due the rise in  periodontal disease as the population grows older. Tooth loss and other oral health problems in older Americans recently prompted AARP to declare the “Over 50 Dental Crisis.” In 2006, Dental Economics reported that more than 30 million Americas are missing all their teeth in one or both jaws.

The AARP Bulletin warned that dental disease has become a silent epidemic among older Americans. Older adults with missing teeth often have underlying periodontal disease from which bacteria from chronic gum infection can migrate through the bloodstream to vital organs. Adults with missing teeth are unable to eat properly and often develop nutritional deficiencies from an inadequate or unhealthy diet.

Oral health problems in older adults

Oral health problems in older adults include the following:

  • Untreated tooth decay. Nearly all adults (96%) aged 65 years or older have had a cavity; 1 in 5 have untreated tooth decay.
  • Gum disease. A high percentage of older adults have gum disease. About 2 in 3 (68%) adults aged 65 years or older have gum disease.
  • Tooth loss. Nearly 1 in 5 of adults aged 65 or older have lost all of their teeth. Complete tooth loss is twice as prevalent among adults aged 75 and older (26%) compared with adults aged 65-74 (13%). Having missing teeth or wearing dentures can affect nutrition, because people without teeth or with dentures often prefer soft, easily chewed foods instead of foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Oral cancer. Cancers of the mouth (oral and pharyngeal cancers) are primarily diagnosed in older adults; median age at diagnosis is 62 years.
  • Chronic disease. Most older Americans take both prescription and over-the-counter drugs; many of these medications can cause dry mouth. Reduced saliva flow increases the risk of cavities
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