Tooth loss may be linked to decline of body and mind

Wednesday, September 13, 2017



A British study has found that tooth loss may be an early indicator of physical and cognitive decline. The study examined adults over the age of 60 to determine whether or not edentulism could be indicative of diminished function.


In Britain, 15% of adults aged 65 to 74 are edentulous, and a number of studies have found a correlation between tooth loss and diminished cognitive or physical capabilities. This study drew upon data from 3,166 individuals gathered over a period of ten years. The participants were asked about their dental health status and then categorised into dentate and edentulous.

To assess their cognitive function, participants were asked to listen to ten words and then recall as many as they could immediately after. They were asked again several minutes later. To test their physical function, their gait speed was measured by asking them to walk a distance of eight feet at their usual pace.

The results showed that edentulous participants recalled fewer words and walked with a slower gait than the dentate group. This suggests that edentulism is associated with a greater probability of diminished physical and cognitive function in older age. Edentulism could therefore be a significant early marker for impaired function. This study was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.