It’s only natural that the state of the human body declines with old age, but there are certain physical signs that indicate a breakdown of other parts of the body. Interestingly enough, one of these is tooth loss.
Studies linking tooth loss to physical ailments are not new. In 2012, researchers found that loss of teeth in elderly people can indicate a faster mental and physical decline. People over the age of 60 with fewer natural teeth have been proven to walk slower than those who maintained their natural teeth.
Excessive tooth loss is commonly linked to periodontal (gum) disease. This starts as inflammation of the gums and later can lead to loss of teeth. The risks of this disease increase with age.
Most recently, there is speculation that there is a link between the number of missing teeth a person has and the chance that they fracture their hip. As people age, their risk of developing osteoporosis increases drastically. Osteoporosis is a condition that causes bones to lose density which leaves them more susceptible to fractures.
The loss of bone density in the jaw bone can lead to periodontal disease, because of the higher susceptibility to bacteria. Still, the connection between fractures of the hip and tooth loss is not well documented.
In order to determine this correlation, a study was conducted with 100 subjects. Half of them had hip fractures and the other half did not. The findings indicated that for every 5-tooth increase in missing teeth, the likelihood of hip fracture increased by 26%.
According to the American College of Prosthodontists, 36 million Americans do not have any teeth. This number is expected to grow. Teeth are important to maintaining bone density in the jaw. Without teeth, and the movement generated by chewing, replacing bone cells in the mouth becomes nearly impossible. As bone cells decrease, the chances of bone loss grows.
While there is no way to naturally replace lost teeth, there are ways that a prosthodontist can help you. Replacing missing teeth with dental implants has been shown to help with bone loss. In fact, dental implants can improve bone density by serving a similar function to natural teeth.
The titanium in the implants actually attracts bone cells and stimulates the development of new bone cells in the same way that chewing with natural teeth does. This leads to increased bone density.
If you, or someone you know, is experiencing or worried about tooth loss, contact our office to learn how prosthodontist, Dr. Hervas, can help.