Is tooth loss an inevitable part of aging?
Forty-nine per cent of seniors believe that tooth loss and declining oral health are inevitable as we grow older, according to a recent public opinion survey conducted by the Canadian Dental Association (CDA).
“This number comes as a surprise considering today’s seniors are keeping and more of their natural teeth,” says Dr. Jack Cottrell, president of the Canadian Dental Association. “We absolutely can keep our teeth healthy for a lifetime – it just looks like attitudes may have to catch up with the new reality.”
In fact, more than half of the survey respondents have more than 75 per cent of their natural teeth. Other results of the survey paint a picture of an aging population in which the value of oral health is growing, and the results are starting to show. Eighty-two per cent of respondents rated their oral health as good to excellent; 84 per cent do not feel self-conscious about the state of their teeth; and 83 per cent are able to make varied food choices.
In addition, most seniors reported making at least annual visits to the dentist. “Regular dental visits are especially important as we age.” said Dr. Cottre, “During your check-up, your dentist is doing a lot of things in addition to checking your teeth and gums – like screening for signs of oral cancer, talking to you about the possible oral effects of medications you may be taking, and explaining the relationship between oral health and overall health.”
A recent study in the Journal of the Canadian Dental Association shows gum disease may be more prevalent among diabetic patients than non-diabetics, and may actually contribute to the likelihood of developing the disease.
“Gum disease and diabetes create a vicious circle – the disease cycle of each negatively affects the other,” says Dr. Cottrell. “Since the risk for both diseases increases as we age, your dentist is a vital part of your complete health.”
The Canadian Dental Association (CDA) is the national voice for dentistry, dedicated to the advancement and leadership of a unified profession and to the promotion of optimal oral health, an essential component of general health. For more information, please visit CDA’s website at: www.cda-adc.ca/nohm. Version française disponible à: www.cda-adc.ca/mnsb
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