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Our Aging Population and Oral Health Challenges
By Robin Roderick, RDH MSDH
“The size and structure of this population will have implications for researchers, policy makers, health care professionals, and others seeking to anticipate the influence that this generation may have on the American landscape as they move into retirement and old age” (Shrestha, L.B., & Heisler, p. 2).
By 2029 more than 20 percent of the total U.S. population will be over the age of 65. 1  In comparison to many other developed countries, the United States has a smaller share of older persons. 2 However, this changing demographic profile often referred to as ‘silver tsunami’ will have important implications for the economy and society. 2 This profound graying population will reshape the nation with increased old-age dependency that will challenge businesses, families, the government, and healthcare.  3   The U.S. Census Bureau concludes the baby boomers that began turning 65 in 2011, are now the driving growth behind this wave of silver. By 2056, this baby boom cohort is projected to become larger than the population under 18 years of age (FIGURE 1). 1-5
America’s Aging Population
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Relationship of a Healthy Mouth to General Health and Illness
Research indicates poor oral health is associated with:
Atherosclerosis 6-12 Autoimmune diseases 7,8 Cardiovascular diseases 6-12,25 Cancer 27 Dementia 25 Myocardial infarction & stroke 7-9,25 Metabolic syndrome 26 Neurological diseases 7 Osteoporosis 10 Pulmonary diseases 6-12 Poor nutrition 6-12,25,27 Pneumonia (acquired or aspiration) 6-12,20,25,27 Rheumatoid arthritis 7 Type 2 Diabetes 6-12,20,25
Bidirectional Relationship of Illness
Medications (most common), radiation therapy, and rheumatic disease are common causes of dry mouth (xerostomia) 6,21,17,27 33% of senior adults have untreated tooth decay; 56% have untreated periodontal disease. 13,17,27 More than 90% of the elderly take prescription medications each week 13 The average nursing home resident takes 8 medications daily 13,19 Taste alteration (dysgeusia) is also associated with over 200 medications 13,19 Periodontal disease worsens glycemic control 7,25 Undernutrition is associated with more deaths after age 70 13
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© Copyright 2000 Alliance of Dental Hygiene Practitioners. All rights reserved.
America’s Aging Population
“The size and structure of this population will have implications for researchers, policy makers, health care professionals, and others seeking to anticipate the influence that this generation may have on the American landscape as they move into retirement and old age” (Shrestha, L.B., & Heisler, p. 2).
By 2029 more than 20 percent of the total U.S. population will be over the age of 65. 1  In comparison to many other developed countries, the United States has a smaller share of older persons. 2 However, this changing demographic profile often referred to as ‘silver tsunami’ will have important implications for the economy and society. 2 This profound graying population will reshape the nation with increased old-age dependency that will challenge businesses, families, the government, and healthcare.  3   The U.S. Census Bureau concludes the baby boomers that began turning 65 in 2011, are now the driving growth behind this wave of silver. By 2056, this baby boom cohort is projected to become larger than the population under 18 years of age (FIGURE 1). 1-5
Next Page Our Aging Population and Oral Health Challenges
By Robin Roderick, RDH MSDH
Relationship of a Healthy Mouth to General Health and Illness
Atherosclerosis 6-12 Autoimmune diseases 7,8 Cardiovascular diseases 6-12,25 Cancer 27 Dementia 25 Myocardial infarction & stroke 7-9,25 Metabolic syndrome 26 Neurological diseases 7 Osteoporosis 10 Pulmonary diseases 6-12 Poor nutrition 6-12,25,27 Pneumonia (acquired or aspiration) 6-12,20,25,27 Rheumatoid arthritis 7 Type 2 Diabetes 6-12,20,25
Research indicates poor oral health is associated with:
Bidirectional Relationship of Illness
Medications (most common), radiation therapy, and rheumatic disease are common causes of dry mouth (xerostomia) 6,21,17,27 33% of senior adults have untreated tooth decay; 56% have untreated periodontal disease. 13,17,27 More than 90% of the elderly take prescription medications each week 13 The average nursing home resident takes 8 medications daily 13,19 Taste alteration (dysgeusia) is also associated with over 200 medications 13,19 Periodontal disease worsens glycemic control 7,25 Undernutrition is associated with more deaths after age 70 13