Missing Teeth May Affect More Than Just Your Smile

Missing teeth could affect more than the appearance of your smile, according to a new study. A team of British researchers found a connection between tooth loss and physical and cognitive decline in older adults. Dr. Georgios Tsakos and his colleagues at the University College London studied more than 3,100 adults ages 60 and older in England. The participants were tested on their memory and walking speeds. A more recent study conducted in Japan backed up these findings.

Key Takeaways from the study in Japan:

  • Tooth loss is linked to a future decline in higher-level functional capacity.
  • Based on their finding, researchers believe that it is highly important for older adults to maintain their teeth later in life. The researchers recommend ensuring adults have access to the care needed to retain their teeth in old age. This care should cover both maintaining good oral health practices themselves as well as professional care.
  • The researchers found three possible causes for the link between tooth loss and declining physical and cognitive function… an inflammation pathway, the psychological impacts of tooth loss and potentially a nutritional pathway.

“Given the importance of maintaining teeth in later life to maintain functional capacity, researchers recommend adults be given appropriate support to ensure that teeth are retained into older age”