The study, which was conducted by scientists from Shimane University in Japan, involved 635 people between the ages of 40 and 74 who underwent annual medical examinations. To evaluate the chewing function of the volunteers, they were asked to vigorously chew the gummi candy for 15 minutes without swallowing for 15 minutes, and then spit out what was left.
The scientists estimated the amount of candy left over and counted the number of teeth in each participant. They then measured the calf circumference of both legs, muscle mass, and grip strength. Volunteers also completed questionnaires, where they provided data on chronic diseases and eating habits. The results obtained were adjusted by the authors of the study taking into account gender, age, body mass index, physical activity and bad habits of the participants.
It turned out that the lack of teeth and a decrease in chewing ability are associated with a weaker grip of the hand, which may indicate sarcopenia – loss of muscle mass, as well as diabetes mellitus. According to scientists, this is due to the fact that people with dental defects cannot chew solid foods, including meat, so they begin to eat more soft foods high in sugar and fast carbohydrates. Meal times are also reduced.
The study authors also recalled that gum disease, which can lead to tooth loss, is associated with insulin resistance and decreased glucose tolerance, which are the most important factors in the development of diabetes.
“Tooth loss is largely associated with periodontal disease and, possibly, with systemic inflammation, which may play a role in the pathogenesis of diabetes and sarcopenia,” the scientists said. They advised older people not to postpone the visit to the dentist, try to chew food more slowly and brush their teeth after meals.