Most adults start out with 32 permanent teeth. This number may be reduced to 28 if the four third molars or “wisdom teeth” have been removed.
According to the United States National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 1999-2004, seniors over age 65 have an average of 18.90 remaining teeth. Twenty-eight percent of seniors over age 65 have no remaining teeth. Despite advances in dental care and dental education, tooth loss remains a problem for older Americans.
Tooth loss negatively affects the overall health and quality of life of older Americans. This is unfortunate since the life expectancy of Americans continues to rise. Many Americans will spend more years dealing with the affects of tooth loss than their ancestors did.
Tooth loss often causes older Americans to reduce their intake of fiber-rich foods or to eliminate them from their diets altogether. High calorie, high carbohydrates foods that are softer and easier to chew are often substituted for high fiber foods. This negatively affects nutrition, and can exacerbate diseases such as diabetes that are more prevalent in the older population.
Tooth loss takes its toll on senior Americans’ quality of life by making eating, chewing, laughing, talking, and general social interactions less enjoyable. This can have a negative affect on relationships that are important to overall quality of life.
The good news is that older Americans now have better options for replacing missing teeth. Dental implant supported crowns and bridges give senior Americans a permanent solution to missing teeth. Dental implants can be used to support new teeth that look, feel, and function like the original teeth. With dental implants, older Americans do not have to change their diets, and can smile, laugh and eat with confidence.
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