Te Whanganui-a-Tara – Previous research has found poor oral health is a forecaster of cardiovascular disease and mortality from all causes.
Previous research has found poor oral health is a forecaster of cardiovascular disease and mortality from all causes.
But a new study suggests that having fewer remaining teeth and poor chewing ability increases the risk of muscle loss, weakness, and diabetes in older people.
Improvements in oral health, including the use of dentures — which might mitigate the risk of losing remaining teeth — could help prevent these conditions.
One of the many impacts of the global pandemic crisis is that many people initially were unable to see their dentists for routine care.
The strict measures implemented to prevent the spread of infection have severely reduced access to dental services. This situation led to a rapidly growing backlog of patients in need of oral treatment and care.
In the United Kingdom, for example, a survey revealed major delays in appointments for National Health Service dentistry. In response, many people have resorted to paying extra for private care.
Research show beyond physical discomfort, poor oral health has significant knock-on effects, including an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
One study has found that oral frailty, a measure that includes the number of remaining teeth, chewing ability, and difficulties eating and swallowing, was a risk factor for physical frailty, disability, and mortality from all causes.
A new study by researchers at Shimane University, in Izumo, Japan, has found small but significantly increased risks of diabetes, which is loss of muscle and weakness due to aging, among older adults with oral frailty.
Although oral health might affect the overall health of an individual, it has been neglected in the public health domain.
The research collaborated with a health examination programme in Ohnan, a small town in Japan’s Shimane prefecture.
A total of 635 people aged between 40 and 74 years took part in the study.
To assess the participants’ chewing ability, or “masticatory function,” the researchers asked them to chew a gummy jelly as energetically as possible for 15 seconds without swallowing it, then spit out what was left.
The team then counted the number of the pieces of the candy that remained.
They also counted how many teeth each participant had and measured their calf circumference twice for both legs, as well as their skeletal muscle mass and handgrip strength.
They found that having fewer remaining teeth and poor chewing ability were significantly associated with a weaker handgrip and possible sarcopenia.
Fewer teeth and poor chewing ability were also significantly associated with diabetes. According to the research, improving astication and denture use may reduce the risk of diabetes and sarcopenia.
Gum disease, which can cause tooth loss, can lead to decreased insulin sensitivity and impaired glucose tolerance.
Older people should eat more slowly and brush their teeth after meals. By taking care of their oral health, they would help maintain their overall health, he emphasised.