How Losing a Tooth Affects the Mind and Body
Losing teeth naturally has an effect on your oral health. Extra pressure is put on the surrounding teeth to make up for the strength any missing teeth provided, teeth can shift into the empty space causing serious orthodontic issues, and the face can lose its structure or shape. But a recent study shows that missing teeth can affect more than just your dental health, it can be detrimental to your mental and physical health, too.
The Journal of American Geriatrics Society conducted a study that showed a decline in the memory and walking speeds in those who no longer have any of their natural teeth. The study consisted of 3,166 people from the English Longitudinal Study of Aging (or ELSA), who were all over the age of sixty. They compared memory and walking skills, and found that those with none of their original teeth (either with dentures or dental implants) performed ten percent worse in both cases than those who still had all or at least some of their natural teeth. The researchers recognize that other conditions, like pre-existing health problems, smoking and drinking habits, relevant biomarkers, socio-economic status, and cases of depression are also relevant factors, but even with taking those into account, they found that complete tooth loss was still the prevalent, deciding factor.
Doctors have taken from this study the possibility that the loss of all natural teeth could be an early marker of mental and physical decline in those between the ages of sixty and seventy-four.
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