As a Denver holistic dentist, Dr. McGinty helps to educate her patients on the important role their oral health plays in determining their overall health. A great looking smile does more than just give you confidence about your appearance. Healthy teeth and gums can actually play a role in how you go about the day, according to the results of a new study.
Senior adults with more natural teeth have an easier time performing everyday tasks like making meals, going shopping, and talking on the phone, according to researchers from Tokyo Medical and Dental University.
As published in the Journal of American Geriatrics Society, the study examined data collected from over 5,600 adults between the ages of 50 and 70 who participated in the English Longitudinal Study of Aging.
Earlier studies have found a link between tooth loss and a reduction in an individual’s ability to function but those studies did not establish a causal connection. In this latest study, researchers wanted to investigate the causal impact of tooth loss on an individual’s ability to conduct daily activities. Even after considering factors like socioeconomic status and poor overall health, researchers were still able to identify an independent connection between tooth loss and the ability to carry out everyday tasks.
The results of this study further underscore the importance of visiting a Denver holistic dentist for regular exams and cleanings as the state of an individual’s oral health greatly influences their ability to function and enjoy a full and healthy life.
Poor Oral Health Leads to a Decline in Quality of Life
As part of the study, participants were asked how many natural teeth they had remaining. A significant portion of the seniors in the study had lost up to 32 natural teeth in their lifetime.
Using data from the English Longitudinal Study of Aging collected over a two-year period, researchers measured the impact of tooth loss on a participant’s ability to conduct key parts of their daily routines. The activities included the preparation of meals, shopping for groceries, taking medication, managing money, working around the house, and even talking on the phone.
“We know from previous studies that tooth loss is associated with reduced functional capacity, but this study is the first to provide evidence about the causal effect tooth loss has on the instrumental activities of daily living among older adults, and this effect is considerable,” wrote the research team regarding the findings of their study.
Data collected from the study found that older adults with 10 natural teeth remaining are 30 percent more likely to have difficulties completing daily activities like shopping for groceries or working around the house when compared to seniors with 20 remaining teeth.
Researchers still found that such a connection existed even after adjusting for factors like an individual’s health, mobility, and cognitive ability.
The research team noted that having more natural teeth is also linked with delaying the onset of disability and death, and that tooth loss can also impair social interactions with others, which has also been linked to poorer quality of life in other studies.
To explain this connection, researchers hypothesized that individuals with fewer teeth usually eat poorer diets that contain fewer nutrients. This leads to less energy and an inability to complete tasks as a result.
Researchers cautioned that more study is needed before a definite causal relationship can be linked between tooth loss and functional ability.
Despite the limitations of this initial study, researchers do believe that tooth loss should be considered a serious impairment to senior patients enjoying a full and healthy life.
Protecting Your Oral Health
As a Denver holistic dentist, Dr. McGinty hopes that her patients understand the interconnected nature of their oral and overall health. Healthy teeth and gums do more than just ensure you have a terrific smile. They also play a role in determining your overall health.
In addition to reducing a patient’s ability to participate in daily activities, studies have also found poor oral health also increases an individual’s risk for a variety of serious health problems. Studies have shown that individuals who experience tooth decay, gum disease, and tooth loss also have an increased risk for developing a range of chronic health conditions that include heart disease, diabetes, dementia, stroke, and even cancer.
If you want to know more about the impact your oral health can have on your overall health, make sure to ask a member of our team during your next visit to McGinty Dental Group