Nutrition and Dentition

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Background

Foods are made up of different nutrients. These nutrients include but are not limited to vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Each of these nutrients is necessary to maintain a healthy, functioning body.

Chewing is one of the first steps a person does to eat their food and get these nutrients. There are 32 teeth in the mouth, sixteen on the top and bottom. When talking about the state or condition of teeth, we are talking about dentition. When an individual has a lack of teeth, they are edentulous. These words are used throughout this article to describe teeth.

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The Issue

Dentition in older adults can highly affect nutritional status 7, 11. The aim of this article is to review the nutritional status for older adults who have either decreased or complete lack of teeth. While oral health is important for all ages, it is especially important in the elderly population.

According the Center for Disease Control, 1 in 5 individuals aged 65 years or older have lost their teeth6. This leaves individuals at a greater risk for a number of health issues including malnutrition and increased risk of chronic diseases 1,7,9,11. Malnutrition is defined in multiple ways, however, it is generally known as a “lack of nutrition” due to a decreased food intake 10. Food intake is important because it contains nutrients that are essential for body function.

There are modified texture diets such as mechanical soft, pureed, and chopped meat, which change the consistency of food and make it easier to chew. However, those without teeth have a lower intake of fruits and vegetables,

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