Wearing dentures can lead to a number of health conditions, according to new research. Scientists at King’s College London have found that over-50s with 20 or fewer of their own teeth are at a much greater risk of musculoskeletal frailty than their peers.
Weak joints and muscles were seen in many denture wearers during the study and the researchers believe it’s due to an avoidance of certain foods. Not being able to chew them confidently has therefore led to a deficiency of certain nutrients.
It is well-documented that dentures improve masticatory function for those who have lost their teeth, but the effect is not up to the same level as those with their natural teeth. The bite force remains weaker and cannot cope with some tough foods.
During the study period, it was found that older people with more than 20 of their own teeth exhibited less frailty. They also consumed more of the vital nutrients that the scientists measured. This highlights the importance of good oral health to maintain independence and maximum quality of life.
Dr Wael Sabbah, of King's College London Dental Institute, said: “Few studies have examined the relationship between oral health, particularly periodontal disease, the number of teeth and general frailty.
“While others have argued that older adults who need dentures were more likely to be frail, there were few attempts to explain the underpinning cause of the relationship.
“The findings of this analysis, along with that reported in earlier research, suggest that the use of dentures could be a neglected intervention that could potentially have a preventative impact on musculoskeletal frailty.”
Some 1,800 over-50s took part in the study with a pretty even gender split, made up of 924 men and 928 women. The mean average age of those studied was 62.9 years. The participants were split into three groups: those with more than 20 teeth; denture wearers with fewer than 20 teeth; and non-denture wearers with less than 20 teeth.
Analysis was drawn through a combination of interviews, clinical examinations and oral health assessments. This meant that nutritional intake and strength could be ascertained in a bid to better understand the correlation with numbers of natural teeth.