Scientists have discovered a link between tooth loss and life span. People who have lost five teeth or more by the time they hit 65 are more likely to die early, according to latest research.
Boffins say that losing teeth can be a warning sign of life-limiting health issues because poor physical health and stress can show early in the mouth.
The Oral Health Foundation study shows that people who lose teeth are more likely to suffer from a whole host of potentially fatal or serious health problems, including heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis. The research, which has now been published in the respected Periodontology 2000 journal revealed that people who still have all of their teeth when they reach 74 are much more likely to live for a century.
Part of the reason for these findings is that bacteria found in the mouth can work its way into the blood stream, potentially causing blockages in the arteries.
Reasons for tooth loss
Dr Nigel Carter from the Oral Health Foundation said there were a whole host of reasons why someone could suffer tooth loss, including smoking, poor oral health routines, or a trauma. However, he added that tooth loss could be a result of developing gum disease, which is connected to serious health issues, including heart disease and diabetes.
He added that what is happening in the mouth can be an indicator of what sort of state a person’s overall health is in. Dr Carter said that he hoped the new study would be a wake up call for people not currently making sure they follow good oral hygiene routines, including visiting their dentist regularly, and avoiding sugary food and drink.
Tooth loss in itself can also go on to cause problems for people because eating becomes more difficult, as does communication. Dr Carter said he hoped this latest study would lead to ongoing research into the issue.