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Oral health in old age

Today we keep our own teeth or sophisticated fixed tooth replacements high up in ages. A well preserved chewing function is both correlated to good oral health related quality of life, a good general health and well preserved cognitive functions. Chewing function is therefore one of our focus research areas.

We also study other relations between general and oral health, as the health situation in an elderly individual is very complex.

A special focus area is the increased amount and changed composition of oral bacteria that follows with oral dryness. Elderly people have a high medication usage that causes oral dryness, which in turn increases the risk for caries and mucosal infections but also the risk to receive aspiration pneumonia.

Oral dryness, eye and motor difficulties, decreases the elderly’s ability to perform oral hygiene. The oral detoriation often goes fast. The Swedish system of oral care to dependent elderly works rather well in special facilities but not for those who still live in their own homes, while domestic dental care also is a focus area.

Principal Investigator

Projects

Medical screening in dental settings

This project mainly runs in a general dental practice with an ordinary patient clientele in Filipstad in Värmland. It aims to sort out which patients that benefits from a medical screening when they pass their regular dental examination. The project also focuses on how the routines in dentistry should be arranged and the cooperation with the health care profession. The studies are both quantitative and qualitative.

Collaborations

National academic collaborations: Professor Gunnar Nilsson, at Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden

Financing

Frident AB, Karlstad University, Gustaf V and Queen Victoria's Foundation, R & D County Council of Värmland, Sweden, Svenska Tandläkares Inköpsförenings Stiftelse för Forskning och Studier, and Swedish association for Orofacial Medicine.

Oral rehabilitation in dependent individuals with functional limitations

This project mainly runs in a public dental practice in Luleå in Norrbotten but also includes home visits and the study material is collected from the whole county of Norrbotten. It aims to sort out if these patients have been supported with relevant dental rehabilitation, covered by the public financial system compared with healthy individuals. The project has both quantitative and qualitative parts and will give a picture of both oral and general health of the study group. It is also aimed to result in advices about what type of dental replacements that ought to be subsidized in the system for oral care to these patients.

Collaborations

National academic collaborations: Associate professor Karin Zingmark, and MSc, Lic sci Robert Lundqvist, both at Department of Research and Development, Norrbotten County Council, Luleå, Sweden

Financing

Norrbotten County Council, Luleå, Sweden

Objective and subjective masticatory ability in older individuals

This project has recently started and mainly runs in the public clinic for medical dentistry attached to ACT. It consists of both quantitative and qualitative studies but it starts with a systematic literature review as the subject is poorly explored and lack conclusive definitions. It aims to sort out the concept of chewing and how a relevant chewing function best should be preserved in elderly patients.

Collaborations

National academic collaborations: Associate professor Anne-Marie Boström and PhD Gerd Faxén Irving, both at Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden

Financing

Stockholm County Council

The oral flora in older and frail individuals – a life threat?

This project has been run for several years in collaboration with the Sahlgrenska Academy at Göteborg University. It mainly consists of clinical studies in different settings where different oral hygiene regims are followed up with several health variables and especially oral microbiological samples that are analysed at Sahlgrenska Academy. We have found that even if the amount of dental plaque decreases with increased oral hygiene activities, the pathologic flora that causes respiratory infections still is left. The main aim is to find how a healthy oral micro flora will be established in elderly and frail individuals.

Collaborations

National academic collaborations: Professor Maude Wikström and PhD Annica Almståhl, both at Sahlgrenska Academy at Göteborg University

Financing

Gustaf V and Queen Victoria's Foundation, Swedish Research Council