A new study in the Journal of the American Geriatric’s Society has suggested a connection between good oral health and achieving a longer life.
In fact, just under half (46%) of those born around 1900 had no teeth left in 1971-1974, whereas 37% of centenarians had no teeth left at the same age.
Furthermore, those who made it to 100 were more likely to have all or more than half of their natural teeth and were more likely to report good oral health. The findings suggest that, ultimately, oral health might be a useful indicator of healthy aging.
Dr Nigel Carter, CE of the British Dental Health Foundation, found the results to reflect changing lifestyles and life expectancy: “What I find incredible about the research is how many people over the age of 100 still have their own teeth”. This clearly indicates that the health service, as well as carers, need to be more aware of the best ways to give oral care to elderly patients.
Oral healthcare is important for anyone, but can be a particular concern for the elderly.
The World Health Organisation recently stated that the main challenges for the elderly are non-communicable diseases, and the World Health Professions Alliance listed oral issues such as tooth decay, gum disease and oral cancer as being non-communicable diseases that can have a “significant burden on overall health”.