Having few or no natural teeth at the age of 70 may be an early indicator of accelerated ageing, Danish researchers suggest.
Scientists from the Copenhagen Gerontological Oral Health Research Center found that dental loss was related to the incidence of disability and death in older people.
Some 573 able-bodied 70-year-old people were monitored over 20 years, 40% of whom had no natural teeth and 20% of whom had 20 or more teeth intact.
At the end of the period it was found that those with no teeth at 70 were considerably more likely to have experienced some disability in subsequent years.
‘It is important to take poor dental health seriously in that these people may be at greater risk of general physical and/or cognitive decline,’ Dr Poul Holm-Pedersen said.
The study, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, also detected an increased rate of mortality in the participants with no teeth.
A recent report from the Canadian Dental Hygienists Association outlined how maintaining oral health can help protect against a number of diseases, including diabetes and heart disease.