Fax Time
Dental Edition

A free and informative weekly

Good Dental Health
Written By: Jerry Gordon

Good dental health can add years to your life.

Most people know that maintaining good dental health into old age has many benefits. Those most important include comfort of the teeth and gums, the ability to enjoy food, and a better appearance. Now, a recent study confirms that good dental health has another important benefit-it can add years your life.

This new study included 1,929 elderly people living in a large Japanese city. This group was followed for six years, and their average age was 79.7 years. In general, those people who had worse dental health at the beginning of the study had a higher mortality rate after six years than those who were in better dental health. Specifically, the mortality rate of those without teeth and did not wear their dentures was nearly twice as high as those with twenty or more teeth, 63% versus 32% respectively. Researchers point to the impact on nutrition as the most likely explanation for their findings.

People 65 years of age and older, like younger patients, should see their dentist at least twice a year for check ups and cleaning of the teeth. All cavities, gum disease, and other dental infections should be treated. Patients wearing full or partial dentures should have them evaluated for proper comfort and fit. Dentures that have been worn for many years may not fit well anymore. This happens because jawbone under the denture can become worn away over time. Loose dentures make it difficult to eat, and speak (they seem to make a "clacking" noise), and do not support the face as well. A loose denture begins to need more and more adhesive to stay in place. Your dentist can sometimes remedy the problem by relining the denture, but a new denture should be made about every 5 to 7 years, or when the denture cannot be used comfortably. In some case, implants can be used to help secure the denture. This is usually most needed in the lower jaw, and is sometimes the only way to help the patient stabilize and use their denture.

Regular dental care and good oral hygiene can add comfort, enjoyment, and years to your life.