Dental Tribune International

Ageing and periodontal disease: look out before you leap

Despite all efforts of dental professionals the prevalence and incidence of total edentulism is still increasing on a global scale. Second observation from a recent meta review in JDR (2020) was that total tooth loss is decreasing in low-income countries while, on the other hand, it is increasing in upper- or middle-income countries. Is periodontal disease the main responsible for this evolution?

Tailored professional care remains the best guarantee for preventing tooth loss. In the former classification of periodontal diseases age-related terms such as chronic adult periodontitis and (post-) juvenile periodontitis were commonly accepted terms. Following the new classification by Caton (2017) age is no longer a determining factor, although  the grade of progression is outlined by the division bone loss / age which was already part of the periodontal risk analysis by Tonetti and Lang (1997). The oral changes of ageing will be brought to attention and how to deal with symptoms such as xerostomia, candida albicans, root caries, erosion, hypersensitivity. When speaking about elderly patients we should not forget the link between general health and untreated periodontal disease. Very recently the EFP and the World Heart Federation joined efforts to launch a campaign on periodontal and cardiovascular health. Speaker will discuss some of their recommendations. Finally Dr Thevissen will highlight the increasing need for supportive dental and periodontal care in establishments for elders. Ageing often includes increased need for care and depending on assistance from family and nurses for daily hygiene. In the tangle of the general health condition, the state of mind and the self-efficacy of an elderly patient, oral hygiene measures and dental follow ups are often set aside as less urgent which may unintentionally lead to health issues or complications.

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