Here is a scary number, the cost of treating oral disease in Europe by 2020… drumroll, and the number is expected to hit almost 100 BILLION Euros!!! (93 billion euros to be exact).
That is a huge, huge number. And a very big portion of that spending is going to be on taking care of the oral needs of the elderly. In fact, estimates place the amount expended for older oral care to exceed the amounts that will be spent upon both dementia treatment and strokes–combined.
For multiple reasons, the older segment of the populace is more likely to suffer from dental caries, periodontal disease and other oral health disorders. And it is not an insignificant matter, as poor oral health not only significantly undermines one’s quality of life but periodontal disease, in particular, is closely linked to serious health issues such as: heart disease, dementia, systemic inflammation and even emotional ills.
And in terms of maintaining good oral health amongst the elderly segment of the population, this concern is only going to accelerate over the coming years. The last fifty years has seen an enormous shift in our global society as the average life span has increased significantly. Globally, our population is increasing at the rate of 1.7% annually, however the elderly segment is growing at the rate of 2.5% annually–that is 50% faster. The United Nations estimates that by 2050 adults over 80 will make up 20% of our population!
Clearly taking care of our teeth as we grow older will become more and more important as our life expectancy continues to grow, and as the elderly class expands significantly.
While aging is a natural process, there are specific physical and behavioral aspects to growing old that come with that process. Some of these factors are:
While there are other factors associated with the aging process and oral disease, the bottom line is that while we cannot reverse the aging process one can take effective action to promote better oral health.
Oddly the main barriers to better oral health amongst the elderly have more to do with human attitudes, lack of education and lack of resources for treatment rather than the aging process itself. We have the tools and technology to greatly improve oral health in the elderly, they just aren’t used enough or easily accessible.
And while there is more that could be done, there is another step that could provide significant benefit to their oral health–the regular use of oral probiotics. Just like our guts, bacteria play a critical role in creating and maintaining good health. Adding beneficial bacteria to their daily oral care uses the power of nature to restore, rebalance and repair their mouths, as well as fighting off a number of ear, nose and throat infections.
(Find out more information at www.greatoralhealth.com).
“Well, OK Doc, I guess we just have to pull ‘em all out and go with false teeth then… “
These words came out of the mouth of a young man in his early 20’s. This case really shook my world as a dentist.
After time spent living, working and practicing as a dentist in the somewhat rural area of West Texas, I was used to having to replace bad teeth with bridges or full-sets of false teeth in the older population set. But this was a young man that should be in the absolute prime of his life.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t much that traditional dentistry could offer him but to pull all of his teeth and have him spend the rest of his life with the discomfort and setbacks of false teeth.
Probiotics and Potential Anti-Cancer Properties
One area of probiotic research that has seen much interest of late is their potential anti-cancer properties. Additionally, research has shown that cancer growth can be promoted by bacteria within the body as well. Find out more about how a healthy bacterial micrbiome can help to protect you from cancer.