Oral health is associated with various systemic diseases, including diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular disease.
To investigate tooth loss in elderly people, Georgios Tsakos, from University College London, and co-authors analysed data gathered on non-institutionalised older adults as part of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, and publish their results in Journal of the American Geriatrics Society
Among 3,166 participants who were aged 60 years and older at baseline, 837 had none of their natural teeth. These edentulous participants had poorer cognitive function and slower walking speeds (a measure of physical fitness) than those with some or all of their own teeth. After full adjustment for covariates, the association between tooth loss and gait speed remained significant, with edentulous participants being 0.02 m/s slower.
“Tooth loss could be used as an early marker of mental and physical decline in older age,” conclude the authors.
 Tsakos G, Watt RG, Rouxel PLet al. Tooth Loss Associated with Physical and Cognitive Decline in Older Adults. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society;2014: doi: 10.1111/jgs.13190.