Oral Health a Clear Signal for Frailty

February 11, 2018

When most of us think about growing frail as we age, our first thought goes to our bones and muscles. But a new study says we need to think about an unexpected area of your body. The researchers in this study have found a link to frailty - in the mouth.

British researchers examined three years' worth of data from the British Regional Heart Study. This study included information from 1,622 men ages 71 to 92. They first assessed the men for frailty, which they defined as having three or more of the following characteristics: weight loss, poor grip strength, exhaustion, slow walking speed, and low physical activity. They considered 19% of the men to be frail at the beginning of the study. By the end of the study, an additional 10% of the remaining men had become frail as well.

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The researchers noticed an interesting correlation: the men who were frail or became frail tended to have poorer oral health than the men who didn't. The researchers defined poor oral health as having fewer than 21 teeth, complete tooth loss, fair or poor oral health according to a self-assessment, trouble eating, dry mouth, or other oral health problems. Complete tooth loss, dry mouth, and a combination of multiple oral health problems were the most significantly associated with frailty risk.

This study suggests that identifying and correcting oral health issues could help you avoid frailty as you age. It's also possible that people who weren't taking good care of their overall health were also neglecting their oral health. Both are important. You should certainly be flossing and brushing daily and seeing a dentist regularly. If you notice oral health issues, don't wait to talk to a professional about them.

But another great way to stay strong as you age is to keep your muscles and your bones (including your teeth) strong with protein. I know that it can be hard to get enough protein in your diet (and this can be particularly true if you're already struggling with tooth loss). However, I have a great solution: Advanced Protein Powder. It's easy to blend into smoothies or stir into oatmeal. It contains 20 g of protein from whey per serving. Plus it's loaded with other antioxidants and nutrients to keep you healthy as you age.

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