The consequence of poor dental hygiene are obvious ‒ each year, numerous people visit their dentists to receive fillings, dental crowns and to even undergo root canals. Moreover, a recent study has found that dental issues can also take their toll on the body’s mental and physical wellbeing.
Bad Teeth… Bad Memory (and Legs)?
According to a report issued by University College London, adult tooth loss may be linked to other serious, long term health problems. Specifically, when it came to both memory and walking ability, those who suffered total tooth loss fared worse than adults who kept at least a few of their pearly whites.
Publishing their work in the January 2015 issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, the authors examined nearly 3200 adults. Each of these participants was required to complete tests designed to measure walking speeds and memory recall. All subjects were at least sixty years of age.
The impact of tooth loss was most pronounced among subjects in the 60 to 74 age bracket. Georgios Tsakos, the report’s lead author, stated in a press release that “Tooth loss could be used as an early marker of mental and physical decline in older age, particularly among 60- to 74-year-olds.”
Factors to Consider
So what explains the results of this report? The authors contend that the documented declines in dental, physical and mental health could be related to socioeconomic factors, including education levels and income. “Regardless of what is behind the link between tooth loss and decline in function, recognizing excessive tooth loss presents an opportunity for early identification of adults at higher risk of faster mental and physical decline later in their life,” stated Tsakos. “There are many factors likely to influence this decline, such as lifestyle and psychosocial factors, which are amenable to change.”