It’s something we’ve discussed frequently: how well your teeth fit together helps determine how capable you are of performing physical activity. This is true whether you have natural teeth or dentures , since quality dentures can help prevent falls among elderly individuals. Now a new study from Japan has confirmed that the way your teeth fit together is an independent risk factor for poor health and an inability to walk.

A senior woman stretching before a run

Community-Dwelling Individuals

This study looked at 552 individuals age 40-79 who were living in a community in Japan. These subjects participated in a general health promotion project in 2013, and had many data points collected. These included:

  • Number of teeth
  • Age
  • BMI
  • Medical history
  • Serum albumin concentration
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol intake
  • Marital status
  • Exercise habits

Subjects also performed a ten meter (33 feet) walking test and had their skeletal muscle mass measured. Researchers analyzed whether the number of teeth was related to either muscle mass or performance on the walking test.

After adjusting for confounding variables, they found that there was a significant correlation between the number of teeth and fitness variables for both men and women, although the connection was different. For women, the number of teeth was related to their performance on the 10 m walk test. They found that Eichner index was strongly correlated with walking speed (more on this below). For men, the number of teeth was related to the amount of skeletal muscle mass. Fewer teeth meant less muscle.

What This Means for Your Dentures

So what does this study mean for people who have no teeth and are relying on full dentures? It means that dentures have to be designed and constructed to perform the functions that your teeth used to do, or else the overall health and fitness of the body will suffer.

We noted that for women, time on the 10 m walk test was correlated with Eichner index, which supports earlier findings that tooth loss leads to slower walking. The Eichner index is an approach to occlusion that looks at how well your teeth are supporting your face. Eichner identified four support zones in individuals with 28 teeth: the contact between the first and second molars on each side serve to support not only the face, but the entire head, providing an important and stable anchor point for the neck muscles, which makes it easier to maintain a stable core. A stable core makes it easier for you to exercise.

To reproduce this effect, your dentures have to reproduce these Eichner support zones. This can be very difficult for many dentures. Partly that’s because they don’t fit together with proper occlusion. Partly it’s because dentures sit on the gums and aren’t anchored in the bones, so they can only give limited support. And partly it’s because many cheap dentures only have 20 teeth, completely eliminating the Eichner support zones.

To make sure your dentures are capable of supporting healthy fitness, make sure they have proper occlusion with neuromuscular dentures like FOY® Dentures. Also consider implant dentures, which can give you better support. Finally, don’t discount the importance of back teeth just because they can’t be seen and you think you can chew without them.

Quality Dentures for a Healthy Life

If you are looking for dentures in Columbia, SC that can support an active and healthy lifestyle, please call (803) 781-9090 today for an appointment with a denture dentist at Smile Columbia Dentistry.