While our teeth are pretty much the same across genders, medical researchers have learned of the impact on overall health can be specific by gender. Thanks to the different hormones, our bodies are creating and processing, women may have to look out for different risks than men when it comes to oral health. For example, gum disease can pose a risk to women trying to conceive, and sleep apnea can damage women’s brains more than men’s. But women aren’t the only ones who need to keep an eye on their oral health to protect their overall health: A recent study found that men may have an especially good reason to protect their dental health as they age.

older man sitting on a park bench, smiling

Poor Oral Health and Frailty

A British study conducted in the late seventies originally examined over 7,500 men between the ages of 40 and 59. Starting in 2010, all the surviving men from the original study (by then aged between 71 and 92) were reexamined.

When the information was compared, it was clear that poor oral health had a strong correlation with markers of frailty like exhaustion, grip weakness, slow walking speed, and unintentional weight loss. Out of the men examined, one in five had no teeth left at all, more than half suffered from gum disease, and one in ten experienced trouble eating.

Correlation doesn’t necessarily mean causation — it may be that poor oral health is not causing frailty, but simply a part of it. This could mean that poor oral health is a good indicator that an older man may need to be examined and treated for frailty.

Oral Health is Overall Health

Of course, this certainly isn’t the first study to link oral health concerns with overall health concerns. Your mouth is somewhat of a weak point in your body’s armor; bacteria and disease can enter there easily if you’re not careful. Additionally, you need your mouth for key day-to-day functions like eating and speaking. If oral health issues prevent you from getting adequate nutrition or reduce your quality of life, that impact isn’t limited to your mouth.

When it comes to disease and dental hygiene, the research is still being done. One study found a link between tooth loss and dementia, and while more time is needed to understand and confirm that connection, cognitive decline can have a massive negative impact on quality of life for the elderly. Some research has even found that tooth loss can accurately predict overall lifespan.

Oral health is connected to overall health for people of all ages and genders, but it’s particularly important for aging adults to keep tabs on their dental hygiene and health, and make sure they’re not putting the rest of their body at risk by ignoring their teeth and gums.

Make an appointment with a dentist in Rockland County: Call (845) 627-7645 or contact us online. We’d love to evaluate your oral health and make sure you’re on track for overall health.