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Is it normal to lose teeth as you age?

How many teeth should you have at your age and are dentures considered a normal part of ageing?

<p>It is normal to lose your baby teeth, but not your adult teeth. [Source: Shutterstock]</p>

It is normal to lose your baby teeth, but not your adult teeth. [Source: Shutterstock]

Key points:

  • The rate of complete tooth loss among adults increased with age, ranging from 1.1 percent in 35 – 54-year-olds, 8.1 percent in 55 – 74-year-olds to 21 percent in those aged 75 years and over
  • Phone the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission’s Food, Nutrition and Dining Hotline on 1800 844 044, 9am – 5pm AEDT, Monday to Friday
  • Carers need to look for signs of oral pain in aged care residents

 

Australians are living longer than ever before, but the nation’s ageing population will have to keep their oral health intact to ensure their quality of life.

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Australians aged 15 years and over are missing 5.7 teeth. The average number of missing teeth increases with age, from 3.2 for people aged 15 – 34 years up to 13 for people aged 75 years and over.

However, it is not normal to lose one’s adult teeth and experts have advised the general public to make an appointment with their dental clinic and be conscious of their oral health.

 

A new study has revealed that there are often emotional and hidden challenges associated with having dentures fitted.

‘Tooth loss’ was the initial stage where patients experience the physical loss of teeth, followed by ‘the emotional tunnel.’ Patients may experience self-consciousness, depression and struggle with dentures; they may feel shame, anger or fear, but also hope.

‘Prosthetic hope’ was the stage that represented the hope and optimism patients feel when getting dentures. They might anticipate regaining their smile and ability to eat normally.

The final stage involved patients acknowledging that dentures take time to adjust to and they need to develop strategies for managing their life with prosthetic dentures.

The study also identified that wearing removable dentures can be a hidden disability for many. People with dentures may feel they have to hide them due to feeling embarrassed or worrying they will fall out.

Lead researcher Barry Gibson, Professor in Medical Sociology at the University of Sheffield said tooth loss can be hugely traumatic and this study has uncovered just how challenging it is for people needing partial dentures.

“Feelings, such as embarrassment or shame, can significantly affect the process of having dentures made and fitted,” he said.

“On top of this, if they don’t fit properly this can make everyday activities such as speaking, eating and drinking very difficult which affects a person’s quality of life.

“The impact can be so dramatic that it can impact their confidence to leave the house. This can have a devastating and lasting impact.

“Understanding the emotional difficulties identified in the study will help dentists to improve the care given to denture patients and lead to a more successful and better experience for everyone.”

The article, titled ‘It’s like being in a tunnel:’ Understanding the patient journey from tooth loss to life with removable dentures, was published in the Journal of Dentistry.

 

The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission has a fact sheet to help providers learn how to recognise and respond to signs of poor oral health in residential aged care.

For more information about oral health and wearing dentures, please visit teeth.org.au.

 

Let the team from Talking Aged Care know your experiences with dentures and whether you still have all of your teeth. Subscribe to the newsletter for more information, news and industry updates.

 

Related content:

Adding teeth to your overall health check

Top tips for older people to keep up dental hygiene

Looking after oral health in aged care

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