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Spec Care Dentist. 1997 Nov-Dec;17(6):196-202.

Dental caries in chronically disabled elders.

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Faculty of Dentistry, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.


Dental caries is the major cause of tooth loss in elderly individuals with physical and mental disabilities. The diagnosis of caries in elderly individuals is difficult due to a complicated oral environment compounded by the prevalence of physical and mental barriers to care. The restoration of tooth structure and the replacement of teeth lost due to caries result in considerable economic and biological cost to both individuals and society. Decisions to remineralize, restore, or extract teeth depend largely upon the extent of the structural damage caused by the infection. Teeth with small lesions can be remineralized with fluorides, whereas teeth with large lesions may be restored or extracted. Caries risk assessment based on the history of previous infection, salivary parameters, and ingestion of sugar can be used as a basis for placing a patient on a caries-preventive regimen. This paper discusses the pathophysiology of caries to explain the appropriate diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of dental caries in elderly individuals with chronic disabilities.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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