Long in the tooth 24-07-2017

According to research, published in the Peridontology 2000, the state of our teeth can tell us a lot about our likely life expectancy. The research found that the number of teeth we lose says a lot about our lifestyle. Those who retain all their teeth until the age of 74 are much more likely to reach the milestone of living for 100 years or more.

So, how does it work? How does the number of teeth we lose relate to our overall life expectancy? The research found that we lose teeth in response to various stressors we face over the course of our lifetime. These stressors are related to the specific life experiences we have, including the economic and educational factors we experience over our life, as well as the social and emotional experiences we have. We are also affected by health factors such as illnesses we experience, and lifestyle factors such as our eating, drinking, sleeping and exercising patterns.

In terms of statistical findings, the research found that losing five or more teeth by the age of 65 was likely to predict a higher chance of suffering from other illnesses. Many of these illnesses subsequently affect, and potential limit, a person’s life expectancy.

The findings of this study have spurred the Oral Health Foundation into action. Having noted how quality of life is linked to our overall and oral health, the charity is encouraging people to pay more attention to their oral health, and to flag any concerns they have with their dentist as soon as possible. This enables prompt and swift action to be taken at an early stage, and for indicators and warning signs of different conditions to be highlighted as early as possible. Our mouths can tell us a lot about our overall health, and so it is important that we are in tune with any symptoms we experience. The Oral Health Foundation are encouraging us to follow three simple pieces of advice in order to support our oral health:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day: once last thing at night before bed, and on one other occasion during the day.
  • Reduce the amount of sugary food and drink that you consume.
  • See your dentist regularly (they will be able to advise how often they need you to visit)

For more information and advice, and for details of the research, please visit the Oral Health Foundation.