New research suggests that it is essential for older adults to receive adequate dental care, as well as the support they need to maintain good oral health self-care.
Maintaining good oral health may help older adults prevent a variety of health problems and disabilities. However, the effect tooth loss on physical or cognitive health and well-being is unknown.
In a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, researchers explored this connection. To do so, they examined information from the Japan Gerontological Evaluation Study (JAGES) project.
In their study, the research team examined information from more than 60,000 community-dwelling people aged 65 and older and who did not meet the Japanese criteria for needing long-term care.
The participants were given questionnaires to complete. They answered a number of questions, including providing information about:
- 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
The researchers learned older adults who have significant tooth loss are less functional when compared with people who lose fewer teeth.
The research team suggested that it is essential that older adults receive the support they need to maintain good oral health self-care practices, and that they receive adequate dental care.
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Yukihiro Sato, Jun Aida, Katsunori Kondo, Toru Tsuboya, Richard G. Watt, Tatsuo Yamamoto, Shihoko Koyama, Yusuke Matsuyama, Ken Osaka. Tooth Loss and Decline in Functional Capacity: A Prospective Cohort Study from the Japan Gerontological Evaluation Study. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 2016; DOI:10.1111/jgs.14324