Oral Health + Overall Health

Oral Health and Aging

Research addressing the oral health of the aging population is urgently needed. The US “65-and-over population is projected to nearly double over the next three decades, from 48 million to 88 million by 2050” (National Institute of Aging). According to the 2011-2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 25% of adults 75 and older were edentulous. NIDCR should prioritize research on the impact of aging on care as well as implementation research on interprofessional education and care.

What research questions need to be answered to achieve this goal?

AADR recently submitted comments to the NIH Nutritional Research Task Force. AADR recommends that NIDCR seek inclusion in the development and implementation of the NIH-wide nutrition research agenda.

Older people often cope with comorbidities that make oral care challenging. Research is needed that assesses the impact of bone health on restorative procedures, e.g. implants to fix dentures, problems with polypharmacy on salivary function and others. Previous projects have assessed the value of interprofessionalism or expanding the role of dentistry, particularly in this population. AADR recommends that NIDCR prioritize implementation research aimed at scaling up successful projects in interprofessional care that is inclusive of oral health for the elderly. NIDCR could also consider curriculum grants that include interprofessional education for dental students to supplement dental education with more hands-on experiences in the complexities presented by the general health of population.

Comment No. 184