A study appearing in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society looked at the memory and walking speed of older individuals with and without their natural teeth. A total of 3,166 adults age 60 and over from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing were looked at. The results showed that people with none of their own teeth were around 10% worse in both memory and walking speed tests when compared to people who still had some teeth.
The results were adjusted for a large amount of potential factors such as existing health problems, physical health, drinking, depression, sociodemographic characteristics, and socioeconomic status. The link between older adults without any of their natural teeth who had worse memory and physical function was more evident in adults aged 60 to 74 years old than those aged 75 and older.
The researchers say that tooth loss and mental and physical decline are often linked to socioeconomic status. However, some factors such as lifestyle and psychosocial factors can be modified in younger patients before they reach older age and lose their teeth. The study was performed by researchers at the University College London.
Source: Georgios Tsakos and et al. Tooth Loss Associated with Physical and Cognitive Decline in Older Adults. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 2014.