Tooth Loss in Seniors

Contrary to popular belief, older people do not merely lose their teeth solely because of their age. If you take proper care of your teeth in your youth, you are more than likely to retain most of your teeth throughout your life.

However, tooth loss in seniors has been linked to an array of other ailments.


What are the effects of ageing on the mouth?

According to the Merck Manual, Tooth enamel tends to wear away with age, making teeth vulnerable to damage and decay. Tooth loss is the major reason why older people cannot chew as well and therefore may not consume enough nutrients. When older people lose their teeth, the portion of the jaw bone that held those teeth in place does not maintain its former height and thus appears to waste away.


Periodontal disease

Periodontal disease, a destructive disease of the gums and supporting structures caused by the long-term accumulation of bacteria, is the major cause of tooth loss in adults and the elderly.

Most sufferers are people with a history poor oral hygiene.

Other people who are largely affected are smokers, people suffering from diabetes mellitus, people with poor nutrition, and those suffering from leukaemia or AIDS – among other diseases.


Link between age and tooth decline

In a long-term study undertaken by the Copenhagen Gerontological Oral Health Research Center, researchers began by assessing the number of teeth remaining intact in 573 nondisabled 70-year-old men and women living in Copenhagen in 1984, reports Co-implant Pros Online.

When the study began, fewer than 20% had 20 or more natural teeth, and more than 40% had no natural teeth. The onset of disability was determined among study participants through follow-up assessments conducted five-, 10-, 15- and 20-years later, while the subjects’ mortality was assessed over the subsequent 21 years, the report continues.

Compared with elderly people maintaining 20 or more natural teeth, those with few or no teeth at age 70 were significantly more likely to report mobility problems, such as difficulty walking or climbing stairs within the next five or 10 years.

Having no teeth at age 70 was also linked with greater mortality over the study period.

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