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Older people with fewer teeth found more likely to be frail

Older people who lose the most teeth are at greatest risk of becoming frail because they can’t eat certain foods, a study shows


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Older people who lose the most teeth are at greatest risk of musculoskeletal frailty, a study shows.

Researchers at King’s College London Dental Institute examined the overall health of 9,338 people in the US.

Participants were categorised into those with at least 20 teeth, denture wearers with less than 20 teeth and non-denture wearers with less than 20 teeth.

Tests to establish frailty included interviews, clinical examinations and body mass index and oral health assessments.

Ability to chew

Those with more than 20 teeth were significantly less likely to be frail than those with less than 20 teeth who did not use dentures.

Denture and non-denture wearers with less than 20 teeth consumed the least amount of nutrients.

The researchers suggest this is because they are unable to eat specific foods and highlights the need for older people to be able to maintain the ability to chew effectively.


Sabbah W and Lee S (2017) Association between number of teeth, use of dentures and musculoskeletal frailty among older adults. Geriatrics & Gerontology International. doi: 10.1111/ggi.13220

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