The associations between poorer memory and physical function were more obvious in adults 60-74 years of age than in those over 75.
“Tooth loss could be used as an early marker of mental and physical decline in older age, particularly among 60-74 year-olds,” said lead author Dr. Georgios Tsakos of the UCL Department of Epidemiology & Public Health in a recent college news release. “Regardless of what is behind the link between tooth loss and decline in function, recognizing excessive tooth loss presents an opportunity for early identification of adults at higher risk of faster mental and physical decline later in their life. There are many factors likely to influence this decline, such as lifestyle and psychosocial factors, which are amenable to change.”
Prior to making conclusions about the associations between tooth loss and memory and physical function decline, researchers adjusted the results for potentially influential factors, such as sociodemographic characteristics, preexisting health problems, socioeconomic status and education. Despite the adjustments for these factors, people without their own teeth still walked slower than those who still had their teeth.