Oral Health and Wellbeing in Older Adults in Ireland
Older lady brushing teeth

Key Findings 

• One in six (18%) of adults aged 54 years and over in Ireland has no natural teeth although most have dentures in place of teeth. 

• Prevalence of tooth loss increases with age, with 40% of those aged 75 years and over having no natural teeth compared to 7% of those aged 54 to 64 years. 

• Older adults living in rural Ireland are twice as likely to have lost all their teeth as those resident in Dublin (22% versus 10%). 

• Rural dwellers also visit their dentist less frequently, with 15% not attending at all in recent years compared to 7% in Dublin. 

• Older adults who have lost their teeth are more likely to be current smokers, than those who have retained them and the difference is particularly noted in those aged 54 to 64 years (40% versus 15%). 

• Overall, 6% of older adults report problems with everyday activities such as eating, speaking or laughing because of issues with their mouth/teeth or dentures, while over a quarter of those with no teeth, with or without dentures experience difficulties with activities such as eating, smiling or speaking. 

• Older adults with no teeth, with or without dentures report less active social participation, lower quality of life, increased depressive symptoms, and increased loneliness compared to adults with all their own teeth. 

• Use and awareness of state dental services is low, particularly amongst those with no teeth.

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