Maintaining good oral health may help older adults prevent a variety of health problems and disabilities. However, the effect of tooth loss on physical or cognitive health and well-being is unknown.
In a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, researchers explored this connection. To do so, they examined information from the Japan Gerontological Evaluation Study (JAGES) project.
They learned older adults who have significant tooth loss are less functional when compared with people who lose fewer teeth.
In their study, the research team examined information from more than 60,000 community-dwelling people aged 65 and older who did not meet the Japanese criteria for needing long-term care.
The participants were given questionnaires to complete. They answered a number of questions, including providing information about:
- how many teeth they had;
- their medical and mental health history;
- how many falls they had over the last year;
- whether they smoked tobacco or drank alcohol;
- their body weight; and,
- how well they were able to perform the common activities of daily life.
The research team suggested that it is essential that older adults receive the support they need to maintain good oral healthcare practices, and that they receive adequate dental care.
The report states: “In an ageing society, physical, cognitive, and social ability are all important components of successful ageing and increasing healthy life expectancy. Higher-level functional capacity is a measurement not only of physical and cognitive functioning, but also of social ability, such as skills for independent community living”.