If you are missing teeth, you are concerned about your smile, but you are probably not too worried about your physical mobility. However, according to a new study from University College London (UCL) in the UK, there is a link between missing teeth and overall health. In fact, significant tooth loss may be an early warning sign of future health concerns. Nevertheless, tooth loss is not a definite indicator of serious problems to come. Rather, these findings can actually benefit your overall health, allowing you to take preventative measures to protect your oral and physical wellbeing.
Missing Teeth, Memory, and Aging
UCL researchers analyzed data from the English Longitudinal Study of Aging. They compared the ability of 3,100 senior citizens to walk quickly and perform memory tests. The study showed that subjects with no remaining teeth walked considerably slower than patients with some of their natural teeth. Dr. Georgios Tsakos, the lead author of the study said, “Tooth loss could be used as an early marker of mental and physical decline in older age, particularly among 60-74 year-olds.” The researchers also looked at the connection between tooth loss, memory, and mobility among adults above age 75. Interestingly, the link was not as strong among this older age group.
The Connection to Gum Disease
Although the researchers know that there is a connection between dental damage and future health, they are not sure of the exact correlation. Many suspect that it may have something to do with gum disease. Periodontitis is the most common cause of adult tooth loss. According to the CDC, over half of all American adults suffer from mild to severe gum disease. The oral bacteria responsible for periodontitis can enter the blood stream and cause additional health concerns, such as heart disease. Fortunately, missing teeth is not a definite prediction of the future. As Tsakos commented, “There are many factors likely to influence this decline, such as lifestyle and psychosocial factors, which are amenable to change.” Proper dental care, dietary changes, and other preventative measures can reduce oral bacteria to protect both your smile and your overall health.
About Your Conroe General Dentist:
The Dental Centre of Conroe, John M Richards DDS delivers distinctive cosmetic, restorative, and implant dentistry for residents of Conroe, Houston, The Woodlands, Willis, Huntsville, and the neighboring communities. For more information about our services, or to schedule an appointment, contact us by calling (936) 441-4600.