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Why Keeping Your Teeth into Old Age is Especially Important

Tim Boyer's picture
Good oral must be maintained with aging.

A new study reveals why keeping your teeth well into old age is especially important for your survival.


Maintaining your oral hygiene is more than about keeping a great smile and preventing bad breath, it’s also about how well you will do mentally as you enter into old age. According to a new study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society good oral health is an important factor for older people wanting to remain independent as long as possible.

This finding was gleaned from data contained within the Japan Gerontological Evaluation Study (JAGES) project that followed more than 60,000 community-dwelling Japanese citizens aged 65 and older who were not in need of long-term personal care.

In the study, the participants followed were given questionnaires that asked among other things:

• How many teeth they had
• Their medical and mental health history
• How many falls they had over the last year
• Whether they smoked or drank alcohol
• Their body weight
• How well they were able to perform common activities of daily life.

What the researchers found was that older adults who have significant tooth loss are less functional when compared with other similarly aged people who had lost fewer teeth.

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While earlier studies have shown that tooth loss is associated with physical disability and can adversely affect social communicative abilities such as talking with friends and family, smiling and laughing, this new study demonstrates that higher-level mental functional capacity is also affected to a level ranked between that seen in patients having a history of stroke and having a history of diabetes mellitus.

The researchers concluded that that tooth loss is associated with future decline in higher-level functional capacity in a large cohort of older people; and therefore, that it is essential that older adults receive the support they need to maintain good oral health self-care and that they receive adequate professional dental care.

For some info on how to avoid poor dental health, here are some select articles on what make can lead to tooth loss:

What do Meth, Crack Cocaine and Soda Have in Common?

Mouse Food Fights Cavities

Regular Soda or Diet Soda, Which is Worse for Your Teeth?

Reference: “Tooth Loss and Decline in Functional Capacity: A Prospective Cohort Study from the Japan Gerontological Evaluation Study” Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 9 September 2016; Yukihiro Sato et al.