Life Expectancy Linked to Number of Teeth

Dentistry Today

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The number of teeth you keep as you get older could indicate just how long you will keep getting older. Recent research has closely related tooth loss to “stress” during a person’s life, including specific social, emotional, economic, and educational experiences as well as health issues like chronic disease, genetic conditions, nutritional intake, and lifestyle choices.

For example, people who had lost 5 or more teeth by the age of 65 years were more likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis, all of which could severely limit life expectancy. Many of these illnesses previously have been linked to a person’s quality of life and socioeconomic status. The study concludes that the number of teeth in aging humans can affect longevity and life expectancy. Also, tooth loss is a predictor of shortened longevity.

“There are many reasons why somebody can lose their teeth,” said Dr. Nigel Carter, OBE, CEO of the Oral Health Foundation. “It could be down to trauma, smoking, or just a continued poor oral health routine. It can also be related to gum disease, which is closely linked to health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.”

The Oral Health Foundation is encouraging people to pay close attention to their mouth and to visit their dental team regularly to check for any signs of disease that could lead to tooth loss. The organization also notes that a similar study found that people who have a full set of teeth when they are 74 years old are significantly more likely to reach the age of 100.

“It is very evident that what is going on in our mouths can really be a useful window to our overall health. It is therefore vital that we take proper care of our mouth and pay close attention to what is happening, as it could be a sign of something more serious,” said Carter. “We welcome more research into this matter as it may be a way to detect and prevent diseases related to tooth loss and other serious systemic diseases.”

The studies included “Tooth Loss as a Predictor of Shortened Longevity: Exploring the Hypothesis,” published by Periodontology 2000, and “An Oral Health Study of Centenarians and Children of Centenarians,” published by the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

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