closeup of older woman's mouth during dental care procedure

A new study points to the importance of proper nutrition and oral hygiene among older adults.

Older adults with a greater number of natural teeth are better able to perform everyday tasks, such as cooking a meal, making a telephone call, or shopping, according to a study published in the Journal of American Geriatrics Society. 

Researchers, from University College London and the Tokyo Medical and Dental University, analyzed data from 5,631 adults aged 50 to 70. Having more natural teeth, they noted, was associated with delayed onset of disability and death. In addition, early tooth loss can hamper social interactions, which is linked to poorer quality of life.

The researchers suggested that tooth loss may indicate a nutrient-poor diet.

Previous studies have linked tooth loss and reduced functional capacity, but no previous study had established a causal link, such as connecting tooth loss with daily activities. 

Even after considering factors such as study participants’ socioeconomic status and poor general health, the new study still found an independent link between tooth loss and the ability to carry out everyday tasks.