What percentage of adults wear dentures?

What percentage of adults wear dentures

How many adults have dentures?

If you are just beginning your denture journey or about to embark, you may feel like a lonely traveller. Loss of your natural teeth and the adjustment to wearing an artificial replacement can be daunting. It is testament to science and constantly improving technology that dentures are not easily spotted. As a consequence, new denture wearers might think they are the only ones having to adjust to the loss of natural teeth and subsequent replacement with false ones. You could be forgiven that presumption, when surrounded by everyone else’s bright smiles. It may therefore come as a surprise to see the statistics of not only those denture wearers over 65 years but also the many much younger people who rely on dentures. Research conducted across 19 countries found 19% of the population wear dentures.i That’s almost one in five.

Loss of natural teeth - a socioeconomic view

One study suggests social and economic inequalities account for statistical differences.ii While retention of natural teeth in Australia is improving, socio-economic inequalities persist, particularly among the indigenous population. It is those who are less financially well-off who have the most tooth loss and who must rely on dentures.iii Those people who can’t afford health insurance nor regular dental care, or who have limited access to dental services because of remote living are also among the disadvantaged. Between 1987 and 2018 the rate of edentulism or loss of teeth fell by 72%. Those with no functional teeth fell by 50%. Even so, 1 in 6 Australians either have no teeth or a lack of functional teeth.iv Not only were the socio-economically disadvantaged more likely to have poorer oral health and lack of natural teeth, but they also wore more dentures than those folks who were better off.

Are older people more likely to have dentures?

The commonly held assumption that older people are more likely to wear dentures is correct. While 1 in 6 people in Australia have no natural teeth or a lack of functional teeth, there has been an improvement in tooth retention in the last few decades.v According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare in 2010, 21% of adults over 65 years of age had no natural teeth. Nearly half [47%] of those 65 years and over, who still had some of their own natural teeth, wore dentures. Women fared slightly worse than men having an endentulism (no teeth) rate of 25% to men’s 17%, while those living in country and rural Australia reported being uncomfortable with their dental appearance.vi

Do young people get dentures?

According to a 2013 report on oral health and dental care in Australia,vii in 2011 the percentage of people aged between 25-44 years who were edentulous (had no teeth) was 0.2%, in contrast to the over 65s at 21.1%. However, those between 15 -24 years who were still dentate (had some teeth) and wore dentures, represented 13.2% in contrast to the over 65 group for whom it was 47.4%.

Why do young people need false teeth or dentures?

Among reasons why young people get dentures both partial dentures and full, are accidental tooth loss in sporting or car accidents for example. Gum disease and general poor health are also responsible for endentulism in young people. Interestingly, the age group 15-24 years (19%) expressed less discomfort with their appearance than the 45-64 years cohort (29%).viii

In conclusion

It is not surprising that older people have higher rates of endentulism than younger people and need dentures. As we age, body parts wear out and suffer damage, teeth are no different, so it seems to be a case of natural attrition.

However, a review of the statistics reveals deep schisms between those who have and those who do not when it comes to access to dentures and oral health. One can’t help pondering on what the failure to address this divide is, given the overall health implications poor oral health has on the populace, and the subsequent cost imposed on our economy.

i https://www.dentalhealth.org/blog/facts-tips-dentures ii https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/adj.12761 iii https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/adj.12761 iv https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/adj.12761 v Peres, M.A., Lalloo, R. (2020) Tooth loss, denture wearing and implants: Findings from the National Study of Adult Oral Health 2017–18. Australian Dental Journal, 65: S1 S23– S31. https://doi.org/10.1111/adj.12761 vi https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/dental-oral-health/oral-health-dental-care-2012-key-facts-figures/summary vii https://www.aihw.gov.au/getmedia/a62dd5db-a9eb-4ddb-b588-41ef726f1fcb/14804.pdf.aspx?inline=true viii https://www.aihw.gov.au/getmedia/a62dd5db-a9eb-4ddb-b588-41ef726f1fcb/14804.pdf.aspx?inline=true

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