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Dentures Can Negatively Impact On Health

NZ Nutrition Foundation media release

15 May 2006

Dentures Can Negatively Impact On Older Women's Nutrition And Health

The NZ Nutrition Foundation in association with the New Zealand Dietetic Association and the Gerontology Section of the NZ Nurses Organisation will address the important topics of oral/dental health and nutrition issues at 'Nutrition for Positive Aging', a seminar being held in Dunedin on Saturday 20th May.

The seminar is for health professionals caring for older people, and speakers include Dentist Dr Eithne McFadyen, Physical Educationalist Dr Debra Waters, Dietitians Dr Tim Green, Moira Styles and Julian Jensen, and Speech Language Therapist Meryl Jones.

A just-released study found older women living in the community who use dentures and have difficulty chewing or swallowing have a higher risk of malnutrition, frailty and mortality. The study was carried out at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions in the USA and reported in the latest issue of the Journal of Nutrition Health and Aging.1

In addition, a Christchurch study of older people in residential care showed that it is not only older people living in the community who are affected.2 The 2004 research indicated that even older people with daily carer support with oral hygiene were suffering from a high incidence of untreated dental decay and significant problems with poor fitting dentures and oral health problems.

Dentists, dietitians and health professionals working with New Zealand's older population are seeing increasing numbers of people suffering from sub-optimal oral health that in the long term affects their nutritional status and ability to achieve the best quality of life.

Julian Jensen, Chairperson of the NZ Nutrition Foundation's Older Peoples Working Group says that the issue of older people's oral health needs addressing. All health professionals supporting older people should focus on strategies that help people maintain their oral health and achieve the most nourishing diet possible.

ENDS

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