Connection of Tooth Loss to Slowing Mind and Body
Tooth loss has a profound impact on our self esteem. Besides the inconveniences that come from necessary lifestyle changes, missing teeth can affect our facial appearance through the deterioration of bone structure. But for some of us, the effects can go even further. Particularly as we age, teeth, and the lack of them, can impact our mental and physical well being.
Researchers recently discovered that seniors who have lost all of their teeth are slower with memory and walking tests. They studied 3,166 individuals aged 60 or older and found that those with no teeth performed approximately 10% worse on tests evaluating memory and walking speed than those who had at least some of their own teeth.
There are likely other factors involved that contribute to the decline in memory and walking ability. Tooth loss is associated with lower education level as well as lower socio-economic status, and these characteristics are also related to the rate of cognitive and physical decline in older adults.
Early recognition of tooth loss can help identify those who may be at greater risk of more rapid mental and physical decline as they age. Since a tooth implant preserves the bone structure of the mouth, it is possible that implants may lessen the impact of tooth loss on mind and body. Tooth loss prevention measures can be undertaken for those who are susceptible as a way to slow the decline of mental and physical ability.
Perhaps the most important thing individuals can do to prevent tooth loss and, thus, an earlier-than-necessary decline in mental and physical abilities, is to practice good oral hygiene habits. Twice daily brushing combined with daily flossing go a long way towards prevention. Semi-annual professional dental cleanings are also essential for the long-term health of teeth.
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