A new study conducted by researchers from the University College London revealed that the loss of teeth and the decline in mental and physical capabilities among adults are connected, UCL News reported.
According to the researchers, the former may be considered as an early indicator of the latter.
The study was led by Dr. Georgios Tsakos, a professor of epidemiology and public health at the university.
Tsakos and his team's findings were detailed in a report published on Dec. 19 by the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, a medical site that features studies on health and human development.
For the study, the researchers conducted various performance tests on over 3,000 adults. All of the participants were aged 60 years old and above. The tests focused on measuring their walking speed and capability to remember certain things.
After compiling the results of the tests, Tsakos' team discovered that the participants who were wearing dentures or had no real teeth left were outperformed by the individuals who still had their own teeth. The results showed a discrepancy of 10 percent between the two groups.
The researchers speculated that the link between mental and physical performance and tooth loss is connected by past behavior, according to Tech Times.
For instance, habits harmful to the body such as smoking cigarettes and drinking can deteriorate the body's physical and mental capabilities. These also lead to poor health conditions and affect a person's dental condition as he or she enters his or her elderly years.
This theory is yet to be confirmed. However, the researchers noted that the loss of teeth in adults can be taken as a sign that a person may soon experience a decline in their various capabilities.
"Tooth loss could be used as an early marker of mental and physical decline in older age particularly among 60-74 year-olds," Tsakos said in a statement.
The team's leader pointed out that aside from vices, both physical conditions can also be caused by people's background.
Tsakos noted that further studies are yet to be conducted regarding the effects of sociodemographic background and a person's lifestyle on teeth loss and mental and physical condition, Science Daily reported.
"Regardless of what is behind the link between tooth loss and decline in function, recognizing excessive tooth loss presents an opportunity for early identification of adults at higher risk of faster mental and physical decline later in their life," Tsakos explained.
"There are many factors, which are amendable to change," he added.