Geriatric Oral Health Facts
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Untreated Tooth Decay
Nearly all adults (96%) aged 65 years or
older have had a cavity; 1 in 5 have untreated tooth decay..
A high percentage of older adults have gum disease. About 2 in 3 (68%) adults aged 65 years or older have gum disease.
Cancers of the mouth (oral and pharyngeal cancers) are primarily diagnosed in older adults; median age at diagnosis is 62 years.
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.
Most older Americans take both prescription and
over-the-counter drugs; many of these medications can cause dry mouth. This educed saliva flow increases the risk of cavities.
Left untreated, these issues can cause
pain, infection, & a decrease in self esteem & cognitive function.
With an increase in medical co-morbidites & decreased ability to perform self-care & access to professional care, many of these geriatric patients present with severely compromised oral health. Pain, infection, & a decreased ability to chew & speak are amongst the most notice able quality-of-life concerns caused by this decline in oral health, but arguably more detrimental to these patients is the psychological effect of their worsening health, their decrease in autonomy, & their change in appearance & ability.