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Oral health and mouth diseases 

Oral health and mouth diseases
Oral health and mouth diseases
Oxford Textbook of Geriatric Medicine (3 edn)

Michael I. MacEntee


The mouth contributes to nutrition, respiration, and communications but it also contains potential pathogens that threaten other parts of the body. It is readily accessible to spot early signs of immune, endocrine, haematological, gastrointestinal, metabolic, and neoplastic disorders. Teeth are destroyed rapidly by the sugar-laden diets and poor oral hygiene that are common occurrences among residents of long-term care facilities. Moreover, the adverse effect of rampant dental caries from medications that disturb salivary flow is too often overlooked by physicians and pharmacists. Oral cancer causes more deaths than each of colorectal, gastric, prostate, and breast cancers, while oral mucositis can be an excruciatingly painful side effect of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Overall, impairments and disabilities of the mouth and teeth influence physical and cognitive homeostasis and frailty, whereas effective management of oral disorder is an essential component of good geriatric care for successful ageing and quality of life in old age.

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