Researchers at the University College of London have found that tooth loss may predict future cognitive and physical health problems. The results of their comprehensive study were published in the January edition of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
The subjects of the longitudinal study included 3,166 adults over the age of 60 who lived in England. Among those who lost all their teeth, physical and mental decline were significantly greater, based on tests of walking and memory, than those who still had some of their teeth. Completely edentulous patients performed about 10 percent worse on these tests than those who still had some teeth.
Even after adjusting for socioeconomic status and physical health factors, those with missing teeth nonetheless exhibited performance deficits. The correlation between missing teeth and future decline was stronger in the group aged 60-74 than in those aged 75 and older.
Dr. Georgios Tsakos, an epidemiologist, and lead author of the study, pointed out that tooth loss may help doctors identify those at higher risk of future mental and physical decline.
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