As people age, different changes occur in their bodies. The most common change that happens in the oral cavity is the loss of the natural teeth. One question that may come up is: why do people lose teeth with age? The reasons are quite complex. There are older people that have most of their natural dentition and there are others that have none. Many individual factors that have occurred in the patient’s life can influence oral disease or other conditions. Some of the most common reasons of tooth loss in older patients are: excessive tooth wear that happens over time, loss of the bone mass that contributes to the periodontal disease, an increase in difficult to restore dental caries, or impaired oral hygiene due to the neglect or medical problems. Xerostomia (dry mouth), caused mostly by some medications, is another reason for the tooth loss. The saliva in the mouth protects the teeth from bacteria that is causing tooth decay, so people with dry mouth or people who sleep with their mouth open, usually are more likely to develop plaque and dental caries, and therefore shorten the life of their teeth.
NUTRITION AND TEETH
The fact is that people with fewer teeth are not able to chew the same foods as people with all their teeth; at the same time the intake of the nutrients is diminished. With less nutritional diet, the aging population is facing more health issues, and that only co-contributes to further weakening of natural dentition and general health. Additionally, after the loss of teeth, people may become withdrawn from the family and social activities, which may affect their general quality of life. I know patients who have not smiled for many years and avoided social events because of the lack of teeth. As there are other options of teeth restorations, like dental implants, they exceed the budget of many patients. Dental prostheses are still the most affordable method of dental restoration.
Grandpa’s lost or loose fitting dentures quite often have been a subject of many jokes, but the truth is, missing dentures or bad fitting dentures are not a laughing matter at all. Most people don’t realize how difficult it is to eat foods of proper nutritional value without any teeth. Oatmeal and cream chicken soup provide only so much; eventually the body is starved for nutrition and the results of that can be very serious.