Men with dental issues are more likely to be frail than men without those issues.

That's according to a three-year study that discovered that having no teeth, having trouble eating, having dry mouth symptoms, with oral health rated as 'fair to poor' impacted greatly.

The researchers also noted that complete tooth loss, dry mouth, and additional oral health concerns were especially linked to developing frailty.

Over a three-year period, researchers in the UK examined the relationship between poor oral health and older adults' risks for becoming frail.

The researchers studied information from the British Regional Heart Study. This study included 7,735 British men.

They were first examined in 1978 to 1980 when they were 40- to 59-years-old. In 2010 to 2012, researchers invited 1,722 surviving participants to be re-examined. During that time period, the participants were 71- to 92-years-old.

Participants were given physical exams, which included height, weight, and waist measurements. They also took timed walking tests and had their grip strength measured. They answered questions about their medical history and lifestyle. They also answered a questionnaire asking about medical, social, and health-related information.

The exam included a dental exam. Dental health professionals counted the participants' natural teeth and measured the health of their gums. Participants answered questions about their dental health, including if they had dry mouth.

Researchers also noted the participants' frailty status. Participants were considered frail if they had at least three of these issues: exhaustion, weak grip strength, slow walking speed, weight loss, or low levels of physical activity.

The researchers found out the following facts about the participants' dental issues:

  • 20% had no teeth
  • 64% had fewer than 21 teeth
  • 54% had gum disease
  • 29% had at least two symptoms of dry mouth
  • 34% rated their oral health as 'fair to poor'
  • 11% said they had trouble eating

The researchers concluded that these findings highlight the importance of oral health for older adults, suggesting that poor oral health contributes to frailty.

Findings are published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society –