While 4 out of 10 adults over the age of 65 still lose their teeth, many more are now retaining at least some of their natural teeth into their final years. Before the full impact of fluoridation, fluoride toothpastes, and improved oral hygiene and dental care, three-fourths of the population eventually ended up toothless. That solved the problem of dental decay and periodontal disease, but the elderly were hardly more comfortable with dentures.
With aging comes a decrease in dexterity and, less concern with oral hygiene. Diets tend to become softer and food debris and plaque accumulate around the natural teeth, contributing to root decay and advancing periodontal disease. Teeth become more brittle and fracture.
Drugs, radiation therapy, and aging also decrease salivary flow. “Dry mouth” accelerates tooth decay and reduces denture stability and comfort. It is then only a matter of time before dental decay, periodontal diseases and loss of teeth occur.