A growing elderly population which is keeping its teeth longer presents new problems in dentistry. Root caries, oral lesions and periodontal disease became the predominant oral problems. The prevalence of root caries, as well as the relationship of system and other oral diseases to root caries has not been determined in any representative elderly population and the incidence rate of root caries in unknown. Unless the epidemiology of root caries is documented and described, it is impossible to make basic decisions regarding root caries as either a treatment or prevention problem among elderly populations. This project will determine the prevalence and incidence of root caries, coronal caries, periodontal disease, and mucosal lesions in a representative sample of approximately 700 of the noninstitutionalized, rural elderly, age 65+ in two Iowa counties. The project will also examine the relationship between periodontal disease, systemic diseases and associated medications, tooth loss, and fluoride exposure to the prevalence and incidence of root caries. The population to be sampled is already being enumerated in the ongoing NIA funded project, """"""""Establishment of Populations for Epidemiologic Studies of the Aged."""""""" Oral examinations, which will be conducted in the participants' homes, are included in the first year of funding. Follow-up examinations occur at eighteen and thirty-six months after the baseline. The examination procedures and calibrated examiners to be used have been experienced in previous studies at the University of Iowa.
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