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The Caries Problem Among Older Adults

The most recent United States census estimates the number of adults age 65 and older is expected to reach 98 million, or 24% of the overall population, by 2060. This demographic change will impact the delivery of both medical and dental care. As the older adult population is retaining more teeth, data trends show that caries risk will also increase dramatically.


A recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that what percentage of adults age 65 and older have caries experience?

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More than one-third of the US population experiences root caries, and older adults are particularly affected.

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Aging adults may experience which of the following?

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Patients with decreased salivary function are at low risk for developing new or recurrent caries.

Senior woman in glasses reading book at home YakobchukOlena / iStock / Getty Images Plus
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Menopause also leads to reduced estrogen levels, which can diminish salivary flow, leading to symptoms of xerostomia, burning mouth syndrome, and dysesthesia.

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Strategies for caries prevention and management include individualized self-care instructions, in-office treatments to remove biofilm accumulation, fluoride treatments, glass ionomer applications, and recommendations for products that stimulate salivary function.

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In what year did the US Food and Drug Administration approve the use of silver diamine fluoride (SDF) as a dentin desensitizer?

FDA Approved (Food and Drug Administration) icon, symbol, label, badge, logo, seal Eulalia Cayuela Martinez / iStock / Getty Images Plus
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Oral health professionals must be prepared to manage the oral health needs of older adults with complex medical, functional, and dental disabilities.

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The Caries Problem Among Older Adults
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This information is from the article Maintaining Oral Health in Older Adults by Annette Huynh, RDH, BS, Kaitlin Stier, RDH, MPH and Victoria M. Benvenuto, RDH, EdM. To read the article, click here.

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