• Description

Despite their unique challenges with access to care, mobility, aging, and health complexities, little attention has been paid to the status of oral health in older adults. Nationally, approximately 50% of nursing home residents are unable to perform three or more of the "Activities of Daily Living,"18 one of which is personal hygiene that includes oral care. Due to these and many other factors, the risk of poor oral health and its impact on the overall well-being of older adults is significant and deserves more attention. The more common conditions that affect older adults are tooth loss, lack of contact between upper and lower teeth, gum disease (e.g. swollen and bleeding gums), poor condition of natural teeth (e.g. teeth that are decayed and loose in their socket), xerostomia (dry mouth) and ill-fitting dentures. These conditions are also fueled and exacerbated by natural changes associated with aging and other chronic health conditions. These conditions can negatively impact overall health by making it difficult to chew or speak, undermining nutrition, leading to infection, exacerbating chronic conditions like hypertension and diabetes, impacting self-esteem, and lowering quality of life.