Good Dental Health For Older Australians
Today, October 1, 2014, is International Day of Older Persons. It’s a day to celebrate older Australians, and explore the issues affecting them. With our dental hats firmly on, today we’re going to have a look at the dental health issues that may affect people as they age.
In days past, it was common for older people to have lost many of their natural teeth and to be wearing partial or full dentures. In Australia, it seems that this situation is no longer typical. Older people are retaining the natural teeth in far greater numbers than ever before.
In 1979, 60% of Australians aged 65 years or older had no natural teeth left at all, a condition known as edentulism. In 1989, just 10 years later, this number had fallen to 44%. It has been predicted that this number will fall to 20% by 2019.
However, just because Aussies are keeping their teeth for longer, it’s not all sparkles and sunshine! A report in the Australian Dental Association National Dental Update of March 2006 showed that all older Aussies experience problems with their teeth and mouth far greater rates than the general population: Older People And Oral Health
With their teeth lasting much longer than ever before, older Australians tend to experience a high rate of tooth decay, gum disease, dry mouth and oral cancer.
Poor dental and oral health can have a strong negative effect on a person’s general health. For example, with fewer teeth or the constant discomfort of a dry mouth it can be more difficult to eat foods that provide needed nutrients. The temptation to eat easy-to-consume, sweet or soft foods can be strong, and the malnourished individual may find their general health suffers as a result.
The British Dental Association urged older people to consider the “Three As” to achieve a happy, health mouth: Advice, Assistance, Awareness… Whilst the focus of this document was for older people living with support from a carer, the most independent Australians will still find these helpful: we’ve taken the liberty of replacing reference to carers with reference to your dental team J
- Seek advice on oral hygiene, denture care and diet from your Dental Team
- Your Dental Team is there to provide you with assistance to maintain your oral health
- Awareness of oral health information will improve quality-of-life
We’re here to help Canberrans of all ages to enjoy great dental and oral health!
By the way, if you are caring for an older person, this pamphlet by the British Dental Association will give you some great tips about oral hygiene, dentures and diet.