Are you feeling down, like you’ve lost your appetite, or generally unwell? Well, you could be nurturing the negative relationship between malnutrition and tooth loss. In fact, if you have lost several teeth, you overall health is even more likely to take a hit. From this perspective, a missing tooth isn’t just unsightly – it is unhealthy. And when left untreated, other areas of your body may begin to spiral downward.
Late last year, more than 25% of senior patients from the Rutgers School of Dental Medicine were treated or at risk for malnutrition. Their age wasn’t the only thing they had in common – the high-risk patients only had 10 to 19 teeth. Most healthy adults have around 32 teeth, and even though it’s normal to “shed” some teeth as we get older, many of these patients fell below the national average.
So, how does it happen?
Your mouth is a functioning part of your body, just like your arms and your legs. They wouldn’t work as well with brittle bones, just like your mouth won’t work the same with fewer or weaker teeth. If you’re missing teeth and notice a negative change in your lifestyle, there’s a good chance you’re suffering from undernourishment and malnutrition.
Changes in Mood and Appetite
Studies from as recent as 2018 also suggest that tooth loss can impact your emotional state and appetite. It’s not uncommon for patients with missing teeth to report depression-like symptoms – it can take a serious toll on your self-confidence when it’s not addressed. When these symptoms get left untreated, it can influence our behavior on a broader scale. You might find yourself not eating as much or less outgoing in social scenarios.
Your Next Steps
Your dental hygiene plays an important role in your overall lifestyle, especially as you get older. Talk to one of our dental professionals about what options are available to you. You may choose to start with something as simple as nutritional counseling until you’re ready to commit to a dental treatment plan. Your diet goes hand-in-hand with your oral health, and it’s important to develop healthy patterns to strengthen this relationship.
If you’re looking for a long-term alternative for a missing tooth, restorative dentistry may be the best solution. Tooth loss tends to have a domino effect: teeth rely on adjacent teeth for support and can become weaker when neighboring teeth are lost. Ask our doctors about the difference between a denture, bridge, and dental implant to determine which replacement technique is best for you.
If you’re suffering from a more serious illness like mood changes or memory loss, you should also follow up with a medical professional.
Ready to get the conversation started? Contact us today to start your journey towards a healthier and happier life.