The world’s population is ageing, and experts predict that by 2050, 25% of the world’s population – 2 billion people – will be over 60 years old. A fifth of these – 400 million – will be over 80 years old. Epidemiological studies show that older persons are particularly affected by poor oral health, with negative consequences on their general health. Oral conditions such as dental caries, periodontal disease, tooth loss, dry mouth or oral cancer affect their chewing function and nutritional intake, as well as their ability to interact socially.
Reuters Health reports on a new study that finds children who develop cavities and gum disease may be more likely to develop risk factors for heart attacks and strokes decades later than kids who have good oral health. Kids who had even one sign of poor oral health were 87% more likely to develop subclinical atherosclerosis; children with four signs of poor oral health were 95% more likely to develop this type of artery damage. Periodontal disease in adults has long been linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
An article in the Journal of Public Health Dentistry describes the impact improving oral health could have on employability. Dr. Halasa-Rappel, PhD and her co-authors used the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey to develop a Dental Problem Index (DPI) to quantify the impact of dental caries and missing anterior teeth on employment, and estimate the impact of a routine dental visit on the health of anterior teeth and the benefits of expanding dental coverage for non-elderly adults. They found that a routine dental visit has a negative impact on the DPI and improves the probability of employment and estimated that improvement in dental coverage would improve the employability of 9,972 non-elderly adults with an associated annual fiscal impact of $27 million.