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Radiographers who are treating patients for repeated unexplained bone breaks or fractures may want to find out whether they have false teeth, as new research shows denture wearers may be significantly more likely to suffer fractures.
Doctors based at the King's College London Dental Institute have found that people whose teeth begin to fall out as they get older, requiring them to wear dentures, may in fact have deeper musculoskeletal issues that make their bones more vulnerable to breaks.
Although teeth can fall out due to decay, an unsupportive jaw bone structure can also result in the need for dentures.
The researchers analysed the dental health of almost 2,000 Americans with an average age of 63 years. Their intake of essential nutrients was monitored, along with their physical health, with the doctors then rating each participant's frailty.
It was found that those with fewer than 20 teeth - meaning they were more likely to wear dentures - were significantly more likely to be frail, with this group also consuming the lowest level of nutrients recommended for healthy growth.
In contrast, people with 20 or more teeth were not as likely to be deemed as frail, thanks in part to them consuming more essential nutrients.
Even when participants wore dentures, their strength did not necessarily improve, which the researchers believe may be due to their false teeth not being suitable to chew through certain foods, as dentures typically have a weak bite force.
As a result, denture wearers are not always able to consume the nutrients that they need, which continues to place them at risk of bone breaks and fractures. For older people, these injuries can mean a lengthy recovery period and could even prove life-threatening.
Dr Wael Sabbah, lead author of the study, commented: "The findings of this analysis, along with that reported in earlier research, suggest that the use of dentures could be a neglected intervention that could potentially have a preventative impact on musculoskeletal frailty.
"The results also highlight the importance of developing oral health policies to ensure older adults maintain functional dentition throughout their life."
Written by Megan Smith
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