The study randomly selected a nationwide sample of 577 participants aged 77 or older to investigate tooth loss, chewing ability and cognitive function. Results showed that individuals that experienced more difficulty chewing hard foods were more at risk of developing cognitive impairments, even when controlling other variables such as sex, age, education and mental health. In addition, chewing with dentures or real teeth had no impact on their results.
It could be that “few or no teeth makes chewing difficult, which leads to a reduction in the blood flow to the brain. However, to date there has been no direct investigation into the significance of chewing ability in a national representative sample of elderly people.”
Unfortunately, this study does not specify whether all participants consumed similarly nutritious meals. Those with a reduced ability to chew certain foods may have been malnourished, which could have played a major role in their cognitive decline.
Nevertheless, the preliminary results of such research certainly provide further support for the fact that oral health impacts overall health. Good oral health brings significant benefits to self-esteem, dignity, social integration and general nutrition.
According the World Health Organization, the proportion of people aged 60 years and older is growing faster than any other age group, as a result of both longer life expectancy and declining fertility rates. Therefore, as our society ages, this type of research becomes more and more relevant…
- As of 2010, more than 35.6 million people worldwide are living with dementia, or more than the total population of Canada.
- The global prevalence of dementia stands to double every 20 years, to 65.7 million in 2030, and 115.4 million in 2050.
- Total health-care costs for people with dementia amount to more than 1 per cent of the global gross domestic product (GDP), or US$604 billion in 2010.
Facts about dementia