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With Poor Dental Health, You Can Lose More than Your Teeth

tooth lossTooth loss is a fairly common issue, and in the United States, approximately 70% of the population is missing at least one tooth, usually in the back. But when tooth loss becomes a serious problem, it can affect much more than your oral health.

Mental Health
Depression and anxiety are both associated with tooth loss, according to a study out of West Virginia University. Excessive tooth loss can be an early identification marker for adults who are at a higher risk of rapid physical and mental decline later in life, and older adults who have lost all their teeth may experience rapid memory loss, according to a study published in the American Geriatrics Society journal. Older adults without teeth performed approximately 10% worse on memory tests than people with their teeth intact.

Physical Health
Older adults who have lost all their teeth often lose walking speed at a much more rapid rate than adults who still have all their teeth. Older adults without teeth performed 10% worse on walking speed tests than those with teeth intact. And of course, people without teeth have a much harder time eating, and 50% of people surveyed in a recent study said that lacking teeth restricted their food choices. A significant portion also claimed to eat in public less and avoid public gatherings.

What Can You Do?
In a study of 400 seniors, 25% had difficulty accepting tooth loss. Losing your teeth can be a stressful and frightening experience, but there are ways to make it easier. People who replaced their teeth with dental implants judged that their overall psychological health improved by 80% compared to when they were missing teeth, and a well-maintained smile has been shown to boost self-esteem. Certain dental implants have even been shown to reduce jaw decay and prevent facial collapse.

Talk to your dentist to find out what you can do to prevent tooth loss and improve your overall health.