British study reveals correlation between oral health and loneliness in older adults

A study based in England shows that adults over age 50 who do not maintain good oral health may be more prone to feelings of loneliness.

The article was published online in July in the European Journal of Ageing. The authors used data from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, a study of people over age 50 living in England. Using the Oral Impacts on Daily Performances questionnaire, evaluators were able to see if any of the people tested had problems with eating, smiling or showing teeth without embarrassment. After narrowing the participants down to those who answered all questions germane to their objective, the authors analyzed 4,640 test results.

The survey revealed that participants who had at least one oral health issue in their everyday life were two times more likely to report feelings of loneliness over those with no oral health problems. Women reported more feelings of loneliness as well as those with lower wealth or education.

The authors of the study hope that their conclusions will mean more doctors consider the impact of poor oral health on older patients.

For more information on aging and oral health, visit the "Adults Over 60" page on www.mouthhealthy.org.

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