The Global Burden of Disease Study shows that 158 million people suffer complete toothlessness. But is aging a sure sentence for tooth loss?
In the period March 5 – April 10, 2020, we explored the awareness of famous notions about aging and oral health among 358 respondents with varied demographics.
Find out people’s opinions and experts’ claims on 10 popular myths and facts such as:
- Getting older means losing your teeth.
- Dentures can be very comfortable if fixed on implants.
- Oral health doesn’t matter when you are older.
- You should always prioritize general over dental health.
#1: Getting older means losing your teeth: MYTH
It is indeed challenging to maintain a full set of natural teeth when aging. Even more: According to 58% of respondents it is certain that you will lose your teeth when getting older.
With higher awareness and modern at-home and in-office dental care, though, this mission is no longer impossible. Although your body changes as you age, experts claim that with proper care, individuals can typically expect to keep healthy teeth. Harvard Medical School advises: “Keeping your mouth young in old age requires diligent do-it-yourself care: brushing with fluoride toothpaste and flossing at least twice a day. Regular dental appointments are also important.”
#2: You will certainly have to wear wobbly dentures as a senior: MYTH
Although almost a third of survey participants accept wearing wobbly removable dentures as faith, the majority still recognizes the chance for other scenarios.
The truth: Even if you were not able to keep your natural set of teeth to an older age, implant-supported dentures can be a much better, perfectly looking and feeling alternative to removable dentures. We looked at different myths and facts about dental implants in a previous article.
#3: Dentures can be very comfortable if fixed on implants: FACT
The majority of respondents (68%) seem to realize the benefits of dental implants for both partially and fully toothless people.
Having ideally fitted teeth with a natural look and feel is the dream of many seniors. The main obstacle, however, remains the higher price of implants in comparison to less comfortable solutions such as removable dentures. Do your research before making a final decision, though: There are clinics that are narrowly specialized in implant solutions of so-called dental tourists and usually provide much cheaper treatments at high quality. In Europe, for example, countries like Hungary and Bulgaria have already proven their positions in the field of oral implantology.
#4: Older adults no longer have to worry about cavities: MYTH
Although ¾ of survey respondents are obviously aware that tooth decay is a problem of all ages, there are still 13% who think the elderly have no reason to worry about it anymore.
The fact: As long as you have even one natural tooth left in your mouth, you are at risk of developing tooth decay. Dental plaque doesn’t ask how old you are, nor does the caries-forming bacteria coming from food and drinks.
#5: Oral health doesn’t matter when you are older: MYTH
Despite the opposite opinion of the majority, it is still quite worrying that 17% of respondents believe oral health can be neglected by the elderly as it doesn’t matter anymore.
However, by all ethical, psychological, and common-sense rules, health is important to people, regardless of their age, income, location or any other criteria. Moreover, there are now a vast number of studies showing how important healthy gums and teeth are to our heart, stomach, joints, and brain. Your mouth is the window to your entire body. Take it seriously. Always.
#6: Dry mouth is not completely harmless: FACT
The largest part of survey participants (44%) recognize the risk of experiencing dry mouth.
It might not sound and look like the worst oral health problem, but if you suffer from a dry mouth all crucial responsibilities of your saliva begin falling short and this can lead to increased risk of gum disease, cavities, digestive issues, and nutrition deficiencies.
In order to overcome dry mouth in the long run, you and your dentist must focus on finding its cause and addressing it directly. However, there are a few tips you can try to relieve this issue:
#7: Gum disease is just a part of getting older: MYTH
Nearly a third of respondents think that having gum disease is an unpreventable, age-related problem.
The truth is you can prevent gum disease if you develop and maintain a healthy routine, namely thorough brushing and flossing twice a day, regular dental check-ups and professional teeth cleaning procedures. Eating well and quitting smoking are other important factors.
#8: Teeth get longer and thinner when you age: MYTH
The dispersed answers to this statement confirm the lack of knowledge on whether aging causes longer and thinner teeth. The popular phrase “long in the tooth” that has been a synonym of “old” for two centuries obviously adds up to the confusion.
In actuality, the perception of longer and thinner teeth in many seniors comes from the receding of the gums that just exposes more of the tooth surface. In a healthy mouth, though, this effect is avoidable.
#9: It’s never too late to wear braces: FACT
Which age is wearing braces most suitable for? Well, for 69% of survey participants age doesn’t seem to matter.
And experts agree here. For Healthline, Stephen J. Moravec, DDS, MS, the owner of Moravec Orthodontics in Plainfield, Illinois, reports that his adult patients have risen from approximately 10 percent three decades ago to more than 30 percent today. Most of his adult patients are in their 40s, but he sees plenty of post-50 patients, including a few people in their 80s.
#10: You should always prioritize general over dental health: MYTH
Just how important are teeth compared to all other body parts? To end this research, let’s look at the big picture. Below we summarized the negative effects poor oral health can have on your general health:
Which of those myths and facts were you aware of?
Share in the comments below!
Stats source: DentaVox, 20 Questions: Age & Oral Health
Base: 358 respondents (global sample)