Tooth loss linked to mental and physical decline
New research suggests that tooth loss in older adults may be an early indicator of physical and mental decline.
Scientists from University College London in the U.K. collected data on more than 3,100 adults living in England who were 60 and older. Data included analyses of the adults' mental skills--which were assessed through memory tests--and physical skills--assessed through tests of walking speed.
The data showed that the participants who had lost all of their natural teeth performed about 10 percent worse on both the memory and walking tests than those who still had some of their natural teeth. The link between tooth loss and a decline in both memory and walking speed was particularly strong in adults between ages 60 and 74.
The study, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, notes that while it did not find a physiological direct cause and effect between excessive tooth loss and mental and physical decline, it likely reflects several different factors related to lifestyle and and socioeconomic status.