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Oral Health of Seniors Declining

A recent briefing to congress in Washington, DC, titled "Oral Health in an Aging Nation: An Unmet Public Health Challenge" focused on the importance of oral health in older Americans. Topics covered included the connection between oral health and systemic diseases, the economic and societal impact from the lack of access to services, and the need for more oral health research.

Perhaps most telling of the challenges faced by older Americans was a presentation from Marko Vujicic, Ph.D., chief economist and vice president of the ADA Health Policy Institute. Dr. Vujicic shared HPI’s analysis that while unmet dental needs are falling among children, the oral health of low income and older adults is "on the rise. (see infographic)

During her presentation on policy solutions, Dr. Judith Jones, director, Center for Clinical Research at the Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine, explained how poor overall health affects overall health, compromising the "quality of life."

Dental services are the "No. 2 unmet need," according to a statistic Dr. Jones used from the National Associations of States United for Aging and Disabilities.

Beth Truett, president and chief executive officer, Oral Health America, shared data from OHA’s state-by-state analysis of oral health care delivery and the public health factors that impact older adults. She stressed that engaging communities to drive policy change is imperative.

More Cavities in Seniors

In fact, you may wonder why you’re suddenly getting cavities when you haven’t had them in years. As we get older, we enter a second round of cavity prone years.

One common cause of cavities in older adults is dry mouth. Dry mouth is not a normal part of aging. However, it is a side-effect in more than 500 medications, including those for allergies or asthma, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, pain, anxiety or depression, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.

This is just one reason why it’s so important to tell your dentist about any medications that you’re taking. Your dentist can make recommendations to help relieve your dry mouth symptoms and prevent cavities.

There are dentists who specialize in caring for the elderly and disabled. For those who wear dentures, pay close attention to their eating habits. If they’re having difficulty eating or are not eating as much as usual, denture problems could be the cause.

The doctors and staff at The Colorado Center for Implant and Prosthetic Dentistry are available to help you determine effective solutions to all of your dental problems, including total tooth replacement. If you would like more information from your Littleton area Prosthodontist, please call to make an appointment today.

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