More older individuals are now keeping their natural teeth with the number of dentures being provided dropping in Victoria, according to new research.
The data from Dental Health Services Victoria (DHSV)—which relates to the number of dentures provided by Victorian public dental clinics to those individuals 65 years and older—shows a 21 per cent drop over an eight year period.
DHSV CEO Dr Deborah Cole welcomed the news that more Victorians were getting the message about the importance of oral health.
“As people get older, the need for dental care increases. Older people are keeping their teeth longer and we hope this trend will continue,” Dr Cole said, noting that the number of individuals 65 years and older accessing public dental services in Victoria has risen significantly in the last five years. “From 54,000 in 2011/12 to 81,000 2015/16, an increase of 49 per cent.”
The findings also show that the proportion of those individuals 65+ years with no natural teeth has reduced while the average number of teeth present in the mouth has increased.
DHSV is currently engaged in a program assessing and recommending oral health practices in Victorian nursing homes where it was found a high number of residents did not receive adequate dental health and treatment.
“Research shows that many residents being admitted to Residential Aged Care Facilities have been found to have compromised oral health and high levels of oral disease,” Dr Cole said. “As they become increasingly frail and more dependent, their oral health deteriorates rapidly.
“This highlights the need for personal oral healthcare support from family and carers. In order to address this need, DHSV has developed an Oral Health Aged Care Package to support community dental agencies engage with Residential Aged Care Facilities.”
The package will be available online in July 2017.