Advances in medical technology, public health, personal health knowledge and greater access to health insurance are some of the key factors today helping people in the U.S. live longer and in better health than earlier generations. The most recent data indicates that life expectancy from birth is at an all-time high of nearly 78 years, with women at 80.5 and men at 75.5 years.1
Improvements in oral health are also significant, resulting in adults 65 and older keeping more of their natural teeth longer than earlier generations. Since it’s National Healthy Aging Month, we want to remind you that practicing good oral health habits is more important than ever.
“Tooth decay and gum disease are lifetime challenges and adults are just as likely as children to experience new tooth decay2,” said George Koumaras, DDS, dental director for Delta Dental of Virginia. “Older adults who take any one of several hundred medications that can cause a decrease in saliva should be especially careful because a lack of saliva brings a higher risk for tooth decay.”
Dental disease is cumulative over a lifetime, so almost all adults ages 65 and older have had dental caries in their permanent teeth.3 There’s no coincidence that being “long in the tooth” is a saying associated with age.
Smart dental hygiene is still very important for those seniors who have lost their regular teeth. Routine dental visits can not only help dentists make sure dentures and other prosthetic replacements fit properly, but may also detect life-threatening diseases like oral cancer early when they are at a more treatable stage.
To learn more about how to take care of your teeth as you age, visit thatsthetrooth.com.
1 The 2012 Statistical Abstract.. The National Data Book. Data Source: U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, National Vital Statistics Reports (NVSR), Deaths: Preliminary Data for 2008, Vol. 59, No. 2, December 2010. Accessed August 27, 2012 at:http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2012/tables/12s0104.pdf
2 Griffin SO, Griffin PM, Swann JL, Zlobin N. New coronal caries in older adults: implications for prevention. J Dent Res. 2005;84:715–720.
3“Dental Caries (Tooth Decay) in Seniors (Age 65 and Over).” National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. www.nidcr.nih.gov/DataStatistics/FindDataByTopic/DentalCaries/DentalCariesSeniors65older. Accessed August, 2012.