The study suggested three possible causes for this association. First, it may be that an inflammation pathway is at work in this decline. Second, psychosocial aspects of oral health such as visiting friends and talking to people might also affect higher-level functional capacity. Third, there might be a nutritional pathway that explains the link between tooth loss and functional capacity.
Given the importance of maintaining teeth in later life to maintain functional capacity, researchers recommend adults be given appropriate support to ensure that teeth are retained into older age. This support should include both the areas of self-care and clinical dentistry.
While the study was conducted in Japan, previous studies have investigated similar associations in other populations. As a result, these results may apply internationally.
The study was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.