As we age our health becomes increasingly important, especially as our body’s begin to change. According to new research performed at Rutgers University, older men and women are at a higher chance of experiencing oral health problems and malnutrition. The inability to eat foods with healthy nutrients can lead to a decline in function and quality of life.
The study looked at 107 senior patients at Rutgers School of Dental Medicine from 2015 to 2016. Within their health records, researchers found that greater than 25% of the patients were malnourished or at risk for malnutrition. Particularly individuals who had between 10 to 19 teeth had increased rates of weight loss, less food intake, and experienced dementia or depression compared to those without nutritional problems.
Problems within the oral cavity causing pain or trouble chewing could result in less food intake leading to malnutrition, however, further research needs to be done to determine the association between tooth loss and malnutrition. Nutrient-rich foods are often hard, such as nuts, some vegetables and meat, which can make it difficult for a person to chew if there is an issue with chewing. What we do know for sure is that eating healthy meals with the necessary vitamins and nutrients can help older adults manage chronic conditions, for instance heart disease, diabetes, and keep bones strong.
Be sure to keep an eye out for signs of malnutrition, which can include dizziness, fatigue, muscle cramps, and bleeding gums. It is important to note that although vitamin and mineral pills exist, they should not replace a healthy diet. If you have any concerns about your diet and oral health, let your dentist know. Make sure to drink water, and eat foods within the major food groups including whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and low-fat/fat-free dairy products.
Feel free to contact Drs. Ali & Ali and their newest addition to the team, Dr. Zarah Ali, if you have any thoughts or concerns. Your little ones and teens are welcome to visit our pediatric dentist Dr. Van. Dr. Emad is happy to help with your orthodontic needs. For wisdom teeth extractions or any other periodontal or oral surgery needs, Dr. Ghazi would be more than willing to help.