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Teeth: Keep or Lose?

Despite being bombarded with advertisements about dentures, the truth is many people maintain their natural teeth in old age. In fact, more people than ever before are in a position to keep their natural teeth [source: CDC].

Advances in oral health care, education and personal habits probably account for this trend. But for people who naturally lose their teeth or live with advanced tooth decay, it's perfectly normal to want dentures and even advisable to get them if they enhance the ability to chew food and maintain confidence.

Like bones in the body, teeth lose their density and strength with age. Gum diseases can also cause tooth loss, resulting in lower self confidence and quality of life for older people who don't seek medical treatment. Dental care in old age differs greatly among socioeconomic class and race, as some people lack adequate dental insurance to meet their health needs.

Although tooth loss isn't nearly as common as in previous decades, people may be surprised to learn that they might not be able to enjoy the same crisp or crunchy foods that frequented their diets in years prior.

There's more to being wise than you might think. The age-related change on the next page is a benefit to older people and society at large.

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