New Study: Malnutrition is Linked to Dentures and Tooth Loss

When Older Patients Become Malnourished

If you are already malnourished, losing your teeth and eventually wearing dentures can further increase malnutrition risk. This was found out in a recent study from King’s College London. People over the age of 50 who have lost some teeth and/or are using dentures may be avoiding some healthier foods because of their decreased ability to chew properly.

Published in the journal Geriatrics and Gerontology International, the study involved 1,852 people in the US aged 50 and over enrolled in a national health and nutrition survey. There were 3 separate groups: those having at least 20 teeth, those with dentures with fewer than 20 teeth, and those who did not wear dentures but had fewer than 20 teeth. The frailty level of all participants was measured using handgrip strength tests; also assessed were their nutrition levels, oral health, and body mass index (BMI).

The results say that those with more than 20 teeth were significantly less likely to be frail than those with fewer than 20 teeth who did not use dentures. Also, those with the most number of teeth were more likely to have a nutritious diet than those with fewer than 20 teeth and those those who wore dentures.

Tooth Loss

Tooth loss may affect older people’s ability to chew and chew effectively. However, the study did not explore why tooth loss and dentures is linked to bone and muscle frailty. Those with dentures may have a weaker biting force, hence, may be unable to chew harder, more nutritious foods.

Other studies have suggested that an adequate calorie intake, with sufficient micronutrients, play an important role in musculoskeletal frailty. Other researchers have argued that the culprit may be tooth loss, which affects chewing ability. The King’s College study generally agrees with both these assessments.

It may be an important consideration that where the subject of nutrition and musculoskeletal frailty in older people are concerned, denture use and oral health should be looked into seriously.

Examining Older Patients’ Nutrition in Bellevue

Our experienced team at Overlake dental apply more consideration to the older adult’s oral health. The patient’s age, number of teeth, use of dentures, musculoskeletal frailty, and state of nutrition are highly interlinked and contributory to oral health.