Study Shows Steep Decline in Tooth Loss, Increase in Socioeconomic Disparities

Tooth loss in U.S. adults has steeply declined since the 1950s and will continue to decrease as generations with a higher incidence die off.

The International and American Associations for Dental Research published a paper titled "Projections of U.S. Edentulism Prevalence Following Five Decades of Decline," that looks at tooth loss over the last hundred years. It highlights the number of people losing teeth and requiring dentures.

The researchers looked at tooth loss among U.S. adults over the age of 15 over five decades. The prevalence of tooth loss declined from 18.9 percent in 1957-58 to 4.9 percent in 2009-12.

The single most influential determinant was people who were born before the 1940s dying, since their incidence of tooth loss was greater than the generations past them. High-income households experienced a greater relative time, although a smaller absolute decline, than low-income households.

By 2010, tooth loss was a rare condition in high-income households. The researchers project tooth loss will slow once people who were born in the mid-20th century die, reaching 2.6 percent by 2050.

To prevent tooth loss, the American Dental Association recommends brushing your teeth for two minutes, twice a day. The ADA also recommends flossing once a day to help remove plaque from between the teeth in areas where the toothbrush can’t reach.

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