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Enhanced Oral Health Could Lead to Better General Wellness, Tokyo Study Suggests

The connection between maintaining good dental health and overall well-being has been further illuminated in a recent study led by Shiho Kino from Tokyo Medical and Dental University. The research, published in the Journal of Prosthodontic Research, posits that averting tooth loss could be linked to lowered mortality rates and a decrease in functional disability1​.

The Test

Drawing from data of the Japan Gerontological Evaluation Study, Kino’s team stratified oral health status into several categories: individuals with 20 teeth or more, those with 10 to 19 teeth with a dental prosthesis, individuals with 0 to 9 teeth with a prosthesis, those with 10 to 19 teeth without a prosthesis, and individuals with 0 to 9 teeth without a prosthesis.

The study then assessed various health and well-being outcomes including physical and cognitive health, psychological distress, subjective health, social well-being, prosocial and altruistic behaviors, and health behaviors.

The Findings

The findings suggest a noteworthy correlation between the number of teeth a person has and their overall health and lifestyle. Compared to individuals with 20 or more teeth, those with less than 20 teeth demonstrated a 10% to 33% higher risk of mortality and a 7% to 10% elevated risk of functional disability six years down the line​2​.

Additionally, it was observed that individuals with fewer teeth tended to venture outdoors less often and had a less vegetable and fruit-intensive diet, which can also impact factors like breath freshness.

Moreover, the study revealed that participants with 0 to 9 teeth without a prosthesis were more prone to severe functional disability. They also engaged in fewer intellectual activities and reported a higher sense of hopelessness.

This insinuates that the retention of teeth, possibly through preventative dental care such as deciding whether to extract or keep wisdom teeth, might play a crucial role not just in preserving oral health but also in maintaining cognitive function and a positive outlook on life​3​.

While prior research has hinted at the interplay between oral health and various health outcomes, the findings by Kino and colleagues provide a more nuanced understanding, backed by outcome-wide epidemiology.

The study’s methodology, which draws from a sizable and diverse sample from the Japan Gerontological Evaluation Study, offers a robust basis for these observations.

Furthermore, the findings align with a 2018 study published in the Journal of Prosthodontic Research, which also discerned a relationship between the status of dentition and incident functional disability in an elderly Japanese population, thereby adding a layer of validation to the current study’s conclusions​4​.

This research underscores the broader implications of oral health on an individual’s overall wellness and quality of life, making a compelling case for the integration of dental care, especially for those with dental anxiety, within general health promotion and preventative strategies.

Your Dental Health Matters: The link between oral health and overall wellness cannot be understated. Whether you’re looking to preserve your teeth, improve your oral hygiene, or address specific dental concerns, seeking professional care is paramount. If you’re in the vicinity of White Rock, consider reaching out to a qualified White Rock dentist to ensure your smile remains bright and your health at its best. Prioritize your dental health today – it’s a significant step towards a healthier, happier life.

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