Study Links Tooth Loss with Physical and Mental Decline

April 18, 2015

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. edentulous /ē-ˈden-chə-ləs/ (adj.) – having no or lacking some natural teeth
ExampleEdentulous participants were gathered for the dental study.

2. memory /ˈmem-rē/ (n.) – the ability of the mind to remember things
Example: People’s memory can decline because of aging.

3. indicator /ˈin-də-ˌkā-tər/ (n.) – a sign that shows a particular situation or condition
Example: Sudden tooth loss can be an indicator of a disease.

4. recall /ri-ˈkȯl/ (v.) – to remember something correctly
Example: My mother asked me to recall my dentist’s instructions.

5. gum /ˈgəm/ (n.) – an area of tissue in the mouth surrounding the teeth’s root
Example: The patient complained about his painful gums.


Read the text below.
Researchers claim that tooth loss is associated with a person’s decline in memory and walking capability.

The study from the University College London (UCL) found that edentulous people walked slower and had poorer memory than those with some natural teeth left. Though tooth loss did not cause the decline in physical and mental performance, the authors believe that tooth loss might be an indicator of the said health issues.

The researchers gathered 3,166 adults aged at least 60 years old. The participants were composed of 1,466 men and 1,700 women. The authors evaluated the group for 10 years as part of a national study called English Longitudinal Study of Ageing.

The researchers assessed the physical performance of the participants by measuring how fast an individual can walk a distance of eight feet. The participants’ memory was also tested by asking them to recall 10 words stated to them. Results showed that 837 of the participants who had no natural teeth walked 0.09 meters-per-second slower and recalled 0.88 fewer words than the individuals with natural teeth left.

Despite these results, the authors believe other factors like poor diet and lack of education could have caused the decline in walking and memory skills. The study’s lead author said these findings will still serve as a tool to help physicians prevent physical and mental decline at an earlier time. Among the common causes of tooth loss include gum diseases, diabetes, and aging.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         How did the article affect your view on your dental health?
·         Is ten years of data gathering enough to declare the study correct? Why or why not?

Discussion B

·         What do you think are the disadvantages of teeth loss or lack of teeth?
·         Do you recommend the use of dental braces at a young age? Why or why not?

April 18, 2015