When it comes to getting the required amounts of essential vitamins and minerals into the body, we most often look to the types of foods we eat. We are encouraged to make sure the food on our plates represent the recommended dietary food groups in stated amounts (carbohydrates, protein, good fats, fibre, etc.) but often a key component in digestion – that of a complete set of teeth – is overlooked.
Before any food that we eat can make its way into the body, these must be initially processed by the teeth where large chunks of food are gnashed into tiny, easily digestible pieces. In order to facilitate this process efficiently and effectively, we need to have all our teeth present. Even a single tooth lost can bring about challenges to chewing and affect how well the food is digested. Food that is not broken down appropriately places unwarranted pressure on the digestive system to compensate for any deficiencies caused. Putting aesthetic considerations aside, dental practitioners are mainly concerned with mouth health and function and the risk to nutrition when adult patients, in particular, lose their permanent teeth and offer suitable treatments such as Dental Implants Brentwood as an ideal option to replace missing teeth.
The Relation Between Tooth Loss And Malnutrition
Without proper nutrition, patients are at high risk of being malnourished which then has an adverse effect on life expectancy. This problem is most noticeably experienced in elderly patients who, most commonly, are found without all of their natural teeth. Medical experts predict that those aged 65 and older who have more than 5 of their adult teeth missing are more at risk of premature death.
Age UK maintains that undernourishment in the elderly remains a concerning issue in the UK where one in ten are at risk. Undernutrition is caused by not consuming appropriate amounts of nutrients to keep on top of health and wellbeing. Missing teeth is a significant contributor to undernourishment in older persons along with mobility issues, illness, low income and mental health issues.
Further consequences of malnutrition can include more hospital admissions, lengthened recovery times from illness and continuing health problems.
To help keep on top of the malnutrition problem in the elderly, it is vital to identify any red flags. This may not be so easily accomplished as many elderly individuals who aren’t getting the required nutritional needs for their bodies, live alone which makes monitoring them challenging.
Common signs of malnutrition to look out for include:
- Loose clothing
- Ill-fitting dentures
- Loose jewellery
- Reduced appetite
- Lack of interest in eating
- Physical weakness and tiredness
- Altered mood
The ways to combat malnutrition are many and includes encouraging the elderly to:
- Consider appropriate missing teeth replacement devices.
- Improving access to food supply.
- Eat smaller meals more frequently.
- Drink more nutrient-rich fluids such as soups or specially-formulated supplements.
- Opt for foods high in protein and energy.
- Enlist the help of a home meal delivery service.
- Stock up on ready prepared meals that can be kept frozen until needed.
Any family member concerned about their elderly loved one’s poor dentition should contact Coptfold Dental clinic for more information about suitable dental prosthetics.