Older adults who have lost all their teeth have faster decreases in memory and walking ability than people who still have at least some of their teeth, a new study says.
The findings suggest that total tooth loss could provide an early warning of increased risk of physical and mental decline in older people, the British researchers said.
However, the findings don’t prove that tooth loss causes the physical or mental decline.
The study included more than 3,100 participants 60 and older. People with no remaining teeth did about 10 percent worse on tests of memory and of walking speed than those with at least some teeth, the researchers found.
Tooth loss could be used as an early marker of mental and physical decline in older age, particularly among 60- to 74-years old.
Socioeconomic factors, such as education and income, maybe the common links between tooth loss and poor physical and mental health.
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 Rapid mental and physical decline later in their life. There are many factors likely to influence this decline, such as lifestyle and psychosocial factors, which are amenable to change.