Social Implications of Periodontal Disease Affecting the Elderly

The total number of senior citizens in the United States is increasing. The 2014 White House Conference on Aging focused on aging Baby Boomers (people born between 1946 and 1964) and their influence on the economy. The conference’s main agenda proposed options on accommodating an estimated 93 million individuals within this population in the next 40 years as they move into and through the older years of life.

Good oral health may be a significant predictor of quality of life in older adults.

Around 20% of the United States population will include those older than the age of 65 by 2040. The Surgeon General’s Report on Oral Health in America created a landmark position in elevating oral health as part of total health when it stated that oral health is a needed component of excellent basic health. Large numbers of older grownups are maintaining their natural teeth as they age and continue to use dental services throughout their retirement years. This pattern is significant because the mouth shows a person’s health and wellness throughout life.

The advantages of keeping natural dentition include the capability to consume a healthy and varied diet and to maintain social interactions. However, the retention of natural teeth into older age puts greater numbers of teeth at risk for tooth decay and gum disease, because age-related issues might hinder oral health efforts and the capability to access routine dental care. The older adult population in the United States is heterogeneous, and variations in oral health exist among those aged 65 and older. There are disparities in the rates of dental decay and tooth loss associated with income, sex, race and ethnicity, and education level.

Prior to the 1999 survey, NHANES studies were performed regularly (ie, 1971- 1974 and 1988–1994). Since 1999 the surveys are constant and carried out every year, and up-dates are released in 2- or 4-year cycles (1999–2004; 2005–2008).

The data gathered are stratified by age, race and ethnic background, poverty level, and sex. Information collected on older grownups are divided into age subcategories of 65 to 74 years, and 75+ years.

The oral health portion of the studies includes individual interviews and scientific dental examinations. Assessments consist of the occurrence of oral diseases and conditions, in addition to market and socioeconomic information. Mean number of long-term teeth, caries rates, and edentulous rates have actually been historically evaluated.

The 2005 to 2008 NHANES data reported considerably more edentulous non-Hispanic older black adults (32%) compared with Mexican-American older grownups (16%) and non-Hispanic white older adults (22%). There are substantial disparities in the occurrence of edentulism inversely proportional to income level, with occurrence more than double for older grownups living listed below 100% of the federal poverty line (37%) compared with those individuals living at 200% of the poverty level or greater (16%).

The lower the earnings level, the higher the possibility of edentulism.


The trend in older grownups is for higher varieties of remaining teeth in addition to neglected cavities. The challenge for the oral profession is to clarify barriers to required treatment of older grownups and work toward more accessible dental treatment for all.


The problem of inadequate oral healthcare for a considerable segment of the US population has been framed as an issue of access. Those living in remote locations, the economically disadvantaged, those with extreme medical comorbidities or other unique requirements, and those who are institutionalised, specifically the frail elderly, have difficulty gain access to dental care.

The concern of inadequate oral health care for a substantial sector of the US population has been framed as an issue of gain access to. Those living in remote locations, the financially disadvantaged, those with severe medical comorbidities or other unique needs, and those who are institutionalised, particularly the frail senior, have problem accessing dental care.

As the older adult population continues to grow, the demand for LTC will continue to rise. Numerous within this population have maintained their dentition into older age, and will expect continued oral care as they age. One proposal to provide oral look after LTC residents is to utilize alternate suppliers to deliver care at a lower expense than dental practitioners. A new mid level dental supplier, the dental therapist, has actually been recently introduced in restricted geographic United States regions (Alaska, Texas) as an experiment in increasing access to look after underserved populations. In the United States, dental therapists are trained and certified to deliver limited diagnostic, preventive, and corrective oral health care in partnership with certified dental professionals.

Additional innovative designs might include having members of the medical healthcare group as providers of some preventive and primary care treatment services to reinforce the oral health-systemic health link and concurrently increase access to care. Older grownups remain involved in the workplace, politically and socially. The typical age of employees is increasing. Research studies have shown that continued employment provides a sense of self-respect and social engagement, both which are predictors of successful aging.

On the other hand, loss of employment can result in social isolation, depression, and even thoughts of suicide. Many males and females continue to work beyond the usual retirement age of 65.

The US Census Bureau Population Bulletin, based upon information from the Bureau of Labor Stats, shows that since about 1985, both men and women older than age 65 have increased involvement in the United States manpower each year. Men in between the ages of 65 and 69 are approaching 40% participation, and females in between ages 65 and 69 are approaching 30% participation.

Therefore, even if someone of retirement age is economically comfy, there might be strong social drivers keeping him or her in the workplace. Appearance is essential in the workplace, consisting of the appearance of one’s smile. Moving forward, the senior populations will be progressive and actively interested in replacing missing teeth with implants, using cosmetic dentists abroad or domestically to restore decayed and damaged teeth and to maintain proper oral health and younger looks for as long as possible. There are numerous other, functions that add to quality of life that may not enter your thought process as quickly. The following were responses from an elderly audience attending a health conference. When asked,

“Why are teeth important?”
  • Playing brass or woodwind musical instruments
  • Playing a harmonica
  • Opening beer bottles
  • Singing
  • Whistling
  • Kissing
  • Self-defense (biting)

Great oral health may be a substantial predictor of quality of life in older grownups. The social implications of the previously pointed out activities and how they connect to keeping older grownups (or people of any age) actively involved and taken part in a neighborhood appear. The delight of singing with a neighborhood choir; of playing a trumpet, clarinet, oboe, saxophone, trombone with a local orchestra or jazz band; of whistling as one walks down the street on a crisp fall day; of embracing a loved one and touching your lips to theirs — all are more difficult if not impossible without teeth.