Losing natural teeth is no longer an unavoidable part of aging: about 60% of people over the age of 65 have natural teeth. The longer a person is able to keep his natural teeth, the longer he can put off cavities, gum disease, and other dental problems.
Just as diseases of the mouth can affect other parts of the body, so too can diseases of other body parts affect the mouth. These diseases include arthritis, Alzheimer's disease, cancers, diabetes, hypertension, stroke, and xerostomia. For residents of long-term care facilities, a decreased abi I ity to care for themselves results in decreased oral hygiene.
To address these and other factors in oral hygiene, including causes of tooth loss and payment for dental care, the American Association of Dental Schools distributed Function, Aging, Oral Hea/ih. The brochure was developed through a grant from the Administration on Aging, and up to 25 copies are free.
For more information, contact Mercedes Bern-Klug, Director, Geriatric Education Project, American Association of Dental Schools, 1625 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC; 202-667-9433.