Age Better: Take Care of Your Teeth
Oral health problems can lead to an increased risk for frailty in older age, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. This study suggests maintaining good oral health as we age could help prevent problems commonly associated with aging like fatigue, weight loss, muscle weakness, and cognitive decline.
The British study involved 1,622 men between the ages of 71 and 92. At the start of the study, researchers assessed oral health – tooth count, periodontal disease, and symptoms like dry mouth, tooth sensitivity, and eating difficulties – and frailty. Then, over the course of a 3-year follow-up period, they determined if the men in the study had become more frail, by evaluating their weight, grip strength, walking speed, and fatigue and physical activity levels.
According to researchers, 302 of the men were frail at baseline and 107 became frail during the study. Having fewer than 21 teeth, complete tooth loss, poor oral health, difficulty eating, and dry mouth were all associated with greater likelihood of frailty.