More and more, oral health care is playing a greater role in maintaining our aging population. It has become vital to older patients as it relates to their overall global health. Oral conditions affected 3.9 billion people, and untreated caries in permanent teeth was the most prevalent condition evaluated for the entire Global Burden of Disease 2010 Study (global prevalence of 35% for all ages combined). Oral conditions combined accounted for 15 million disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs) globally, implying an average health loss of 224 years per 100,000 population.
DALYs due to oral conditions increased 20.8% between 1990 and 2010, mainly due to population growth and aging. By 2015, the US population is expected to increase to 312 million (3.08 million in 2010) and 14.7% of the population will be aged 65 years or older. While effective preventive measures exist for younger populations (water fluoridation, dental sealants and parents), no preventive measures have been devised to address the expected increase in oral health needs of the aging population.
IADR President Helen Whelton from the University of Cork, Ireland, elaborated, “The fact that a preventable oral disease is the most prevalent of all 291 diseases and injuries examined in the GBD 2010 is quite sobering and should cause all of us to redouble our efforts to raise awareness of the importance of oral health to policymakers.” The dental profession has an opportunity to take a leadership role in the delivery of health care services to the seniors who have contributed so vitally to our society’s well-being and who deserve to be treated with the best oral health care we have to offer. This can only be accomplished with a better educated population. Dr. Scheinfeld is a prosthodontist specializing in geriatric care. The Right Smile Team, including in-house periodontist Will Zinney is designed to treat our aging population. Call for an evaluation of your oral health care needs.
Novy Scheinfeld, DDS, PC
290 Carpenter Drive, 200A
Atlanta (Sandy Springs), GA 30328
 Wagner Marcenes, Queen Mary University, London, IADR/AADR Journal of Dental Research
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