Elderly encouraged to make dental health a priority

Dental Health Challenges

In Thailand, the Dental Health Authority says a plan to ensure people over 80 in nine provinces have at least 20 teeth is challenging.

In Phrae, Lamphun, Buriram, Mahasarakham, Nakhon Pathom, Sing Buri, Surat Thani, Pattani and Bangkok, only 50% of people over 80 years old have 20 teeth.

Of the 590 elderly people in Singburi Province, 236 had good dental health, 193 had problems with dentures or dental implants, and 161 needed immediate treatment due to problems such as periodontal disease or loose teeth.

“This is challenging because tooth decay and periodontal disease can cause tooth loss in the elderly,” said Sutha Jiaramaneechotichai, a consultant at the bureau.

Elderly people with fewer than 20 teeth are at risk of malnutrition and choking on food, and some suffer from stomach bloating and lung inflammation due to difficulty chewing, he said.

Even if they cook or steam food to make it easier to eat, they may be losing vitamins and minerals to the heat, he said.

Senior citizens also face challenges in traveling to health centers due to distance or lack of support from relatives, Sutta said.

The agency encourages people of all ages to brush their teeth for at least two minutes in the morning and before bed and to avoid eating for two hours after brushing to ensure fluoride is effective.

“Besides good dental health, visiting the dentist at least once a year can also reduce the cost burden,” said Ngamjit Phranet, a nurse at Pikun Thong Divisional Health Center in Singburi Province.

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