Author(s): Kossioni AE, Dontas AS
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Abstract Aging per se has a small effect on oral tissues and functions, and most changes are secondary to extrinsic factors. The most common oral diseases in the elderly are increased tooth loss due to periodontal disease and dental caries, and oral precancer/cancer. There are many general, medical and socioeconomic factors related to dental disease (ie, disease, medications, cost, educational background, social class). Retaining less than 20 teeth is related to chewing difficulties. Tooth loss and the associated reduced masticatory performance lead to a diet poor in fibers, rich in saturated fat and cholesterols, related to cardiovascular disease, stroke, and gastrointestinal cancer. The presence of occlusal tooth contacts is also important for swallowing. Xerostomia is common in the elderly, causing pain and discomfort, and is usually related to disease and medication. Oral health parameters (ie, periodontal disease, tooth loss, poor oral hygiene) have also been related to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, bacterial pneumonia, and increased mortality, but the results are not yet conclusive, because of the many confounding factors. Oral health affects quality of life of the elderly, because of its impact on eating, comfort, appearance and socializing. On the other hand, impaired general condition deteriorates oral condition. It is therefore important for the medical practitioner to exchange information and cooperate with a dentist in order to improve patient care.
This article was published in Clin Interv Aging
and referenced in Journal of Palliative Care & Medicine