As a holistic Denver dentist, our team at McGinty Dental Group want patients to better understand just how interconnected different aspects of our health are with each other. While many of our patients may consider the health of their teeth and gums as important to enjoying a great looking smile, they may not also appreciate just how large an impact our oral health has on our bodies as a whole.
One of the most compelling connections research has found is between our oral and cardiovascular health. For years, researchers studied how common oral health problems like tooth decay, tooth loss, and gum disease negatively impacted heart health. What they’ve discovered has led the American Heart Association listing gum disease as a risk factor for heart disease.
Now, a new study has discovered another connection between our oral and heart health. Cardiovascular health can be negatively impacted in seniors by tooth loss and an inability to properly chew their food, according to a study published in the journal Clinical Nutrition.
While researchers stated that improving oral health is important for people of all ages, improved dental care is especially needed for senior patients who may not currently receive the attention they require.
The Deteriorating Oral Health of Seniors
As part of their study, researchers from the University of Paris School of Dentistry examined the cardiovascular health of over 5,000 participants with an average age of 59 who had not been previously diagnosed with cardiovascular disease. The study participants underwent a thorough oral examination, along with a standard medical exam.
In addition to assessing their health, researchers also collected and assessed the lifestyle habits of participants by noting their smoking habits, BMI, diet, and physical activity levels. Health exams also noted participants blood pressure, cholesterol, and glycemia levels. During the oral exams, researchers counted the number of permanent teeth each participant had remaining, and assessed them a score based on their chewing capacity.
When examining their data, researchers found that cardiovascular health was better among participants who were judge to enjoy at least an “adequate” chewing capacity. Participants with few remaining natural teeth were more likely to suffer from cardiovascular health problems and cardiovascular disease when compared to those with more teeth.
Tooth loss has been linked to a number of health problems in research. With the results of this latest study, poor cardiovascular health can now be added to the list of concerns associated with senior health.
Why Tooth Loss in Seniors Matters
As a holistic Denver dentist, our team at the McGinty Dental Group understands the challenges seniors encounter when trying to maintain their oral health. Often, seniors who have developed joint and inflammation issues have a hard time successfully maintaining their oral hygiene routines. Seniors who can no longer brush and floss like they did before increase their risk of developing the tooth decay and gum disease that eventually leads to tooth loss.
For those with a healthy smile, it’s easy to take for granted the role our teeth play in not only helping us eat, but enabling us to eat a healthy diet. Too often, when seniors experience tooth loss they make changes to their diets by eating more soft foods. Unfortunately, these types of foods often don’t provide the nutritional support seniors require to stay healthy. This type of change in diet often directly leads to seniors becoming malnourished, which leads to even more long-term health problems.
Not only can tooth loss lead to malnourishment and cardiovascular disease, it also causes seniors to become less confident in their appearance. Tooth loss can leave the face looking sunken and hollow. This in turn can make seniors feel self-conscious, causing them to withdraw from social circles out of feeling embarrassed by their appearance. Studies have found the seniors who enjoy a healthy social life have longer life expectancy and better overall health.
As you can see, our oral health does matter now and into the future. Make sure your smile stays looking and feeling its best by scheduling your next appointment with your holistic dentist in Denver at McGinty Dental.