Recently, many news outlets have been saying that dentures are associated with an increased risk of frailty among the elderly. This is based on a scientific study looking at the link between frailty, dentition, and denture use. However, the study actually came to the opposite conclusion: dentures can actually help people avoid frailty. However, the study did show that people with dentures were at risk for malnutrition, which has significant long-term health consequences for the elderly.

Do having dentures make you frail?

Dentures Help Prevent Frailty

The data for this study was taken from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Study (NHANES), a nationwide survey of diet, exercise, and other health-related behaviors. The study has a large enough population that it’s considered nationally representative, although that may not hold up for all subgroups. The subgroup selected for this study was 1800 adults aged 50 years and over.

Subjects had a basic assessment of their oral health, including the number of teeth remaining and whether they used dentures. In addition, subjects were given handgrip strength tests to look at their overall musculoskeletal health. This is a common assessment and is often used in evaluating the health of elderly subjects.

For this study, people with 20 or more teeth were considered the control group. They were compared against two groups of people with fewer than 20 teeth: those who used dentures and those who didn’t.

They found that those who had fewer than 20 teeth and didn’t use dentures were 30% more likely to be frail than those with 20 or more teeth. However, those with fewer than 20 teeth who did use dentures had no increased risk for frailty. This follows a Japanese study showing that elderly people missing teeth without dentures were more likely to be homebound.

Malnutrition Risk

The NHANES also included a dietary survey to try to determine the food and nutrient intake of subjects. It breaks down the intake of 13 different nutrients, including protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

Analysis showed that whether or not they used dentures, people with fewer than 20 teeth were more likely to experience nutrient deficiencies.

What Explains the Difference?

What makes people without dentures more likely to be frail? One possible answer is nutrition. People who don’t get the proper nutrients aren’t going to be able to build adequate muscle and bone. But researchers say nutrition only accounts for about 30% of the difference.

The rest of the difference is likely related to the dentures themselves. Many people don’t understand that our teeth play a key role in helping our muscles to function properly. Without a full set of teeth, we lose core stability, which can affect many aspects of musculoskeletal function, including: walking speed and handgrip strength.

Neuromuscular Dentures Provide the Best Support

If you are missing teeth, replacing them with dentures can help you maintain your overall health. And if you’re looking to help yourself remain strong and active as you age, you should consider neuromuscular dentures like FOY ® Dentures. Neuromuscular dentures are designed to maximize the stability and function of your jaw, which progresses outward and leads to improvement in other systems, including your hands and arms.

To learn more about the many benefits of neuromuscular dentures, please contact a local FOY ® Dentures dentist today.