Tooth loss has been associated with reduced ability to perform daily tasks, according to a new study.
The study of 5000 elderly adults in England examined the ability of participants to perform everyday tasks such as shopping for groceries, doing housework and managing money.
The number of lost teeth correlated to greater reported difficulty in performing these tasks.
These skills are categorised as important to living an independent life in old age, with a lower score corresponding to a greater need for assistance and care in everyday life.
Senior Author Professor Georgios Tsakos explained that the result persisted after accounting for other potential causes.
He said: “Even after taking in factors such as participant’s education qualification, self-rated health and their parent’s education level for example, we still found a positive association between the number of natural teeth a person had and their functional ability.”
The researchers explained that caution is needed on extrapolating the causal relationship between tooth loss and functional ability, as the mechanism by which the two interact is not understood at this time.
The study also examined the impact of water fluoridation on retaining teeth.
Participants who received exposure to fluoridated water as children retained a greater number of teeth in later life.
According to data provided by Public Health England, fluoridation halves the number of hospital admissions for tooth decay among children aged 1-4.
Medical institutions including as the British Medical Association and the World Health Organisation have advocated for the water fluoridation.
Thames Water, which supplies water to much of south west London does not add fluoride to water but does track the amount of naturally occurring fluoride present from rocks and soils.
You can check the quantity of fluoride and other mineral ions in your water here, or with your local water provider.
The amount widely found to reduce tooth decay is roughly one milligram per litre of water.
Fluoride is also added to toothpastes and other dental products for the purposes of reducing tooth decay.