Our teeth serve as an important marker for our mental health. The older we get, the more important it is that we monitor our oral care. Unfortunately, recent research has found that tooth loss may be linked to physical and mental decline in older adults. The study guided by the English Longitudinal Study of Aging conducted by a team from University College London analyzed data from 3,100+ adults aged 60 or older. Their findings suggest that tooth loss in older generations is linked to slower walking speed and declined memory function.
But what do these findings mean?
Researchers compared and contrasted older adults who retained their natural teeth to those who had none of their original teeth. After analysis, they discovered that those who lost their natural teeth performed approximately 10% worse in memory tests and walking speed than those who had some or all of their originals. While the study concentrated on seniors in the UK, similar results have been found in Canada, showing that it’s more likely for our seniors to have poor oral health if they also experience a deterioration in mental health.
Before we further explore the link between tooth loss and physical mental decline in older adults, we have to look at what’s causing this tooth loss. Periodontal or gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss for adults. It’s estimated that almost half of the adult population in the United States has periodontal disease, and 80% of all Canadians have some form of it. Although not all cases are severe, with numbers that strong, it’s safe to say that it’s never too early to protect your natural teeth. If you’ve been diagnosed with gum disease, gingivitis or any form of periodontal disease and have not reached the age of sixty, it’s more important than ever that you care for your teeth.
Schedule regular cleanings to have built-up tartar and plaque removed. Brush your teeth twice daily and floss at least once a day. Ask your dentist to show you proper flossing and brushing techniques to ensure you are doing it properly. Save your teeth now and your mind will thank you later.