Oral health is the key to well-being of the elderly

Dental problems can limit food choices and affect nutrition, as well as the person’s relationships with his or her social and personal environment.

A group of researchers from Okayama University Hospital (Japan) have found that oral health plays an important role in the subjective well-being of older adults, which directly affects the individual’s nutritional status and environment.

To reach these findings, published in ‘PLOS One’, the team conducted a detailed analysis of the oral conditions of older adults attending a dental clinic at Okayama University Hospital. They evaluated aspects such as bacterial load on the tongue lining, chewing ability, and swallowing ability.

Study examined this Relationship between these measurements and psychological well-being Self-reported by participants. Additionally, nutritional status was measured and environmental characteristics such as social relationships, habits, and medical history were considered.

Noriko Takeuchi, from the Department of Preventive Dentistry at Okayama University Hospital, who led the research, said: “Scientific evidence of the association between oral health and psychological well-being is limited. To overcome the limitations of previous studies and as a step toward health promotion, we evaluated the association between personal and environmental characteristics, oral status, and nutritional status in relation to the subjective well-being of older adults.

Results highlighted Direct relationship between oral health, nutritional status and subjective well-being of older people, Oral health affects a person’s ability to consume a variety of foods, affecting their nutritional status and, therefore, their psychological well-being. “Maintaining good oral health may contribute to improving nutritional status, which in turn may have a positive impact on subjective psychological well-being,” Takeuchi said.

Interaction between oral health and social environment

The study also provided evidence of Bidirectional relationship between oral health and the individual’s social and personal environment. Poor oral health was linked to harmful habits such as smoking and consumption of sweets, which increase the risk of dental diseases. Additionally, a relationship was identified between a person’s environmental characteristics and their nutritional status.

In the context of the rapid aging of the population, geriatric care is becoming more relevant. This study provides important data on how oral health affects long-term mental health, suggesting that investing in oral health may have significant health benefits, especially in older age.

“Our cross-sectional study has some limitations; However, the results highlight that good oral health can improve long-term subjective psychological well-being,” Takeuchi concluded.

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