Study Highlights the Importance of Regular Dental Care to Slow Effects of Aging

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Most adults understand that practicing good oral hygiene habits and seeing their dentist regularly is important. Regular dental care doesn’t merely treat cavities, gum disease, and similar oral health issues. It can prevent them from developing in the first place.

However, a recent study published in Nature Aging indicates that adults over the age of 40 may need to prioritize dental care to a greater degree than they might realize. Just as many adults know that regular oral care and hygiene is important, many also understand that as we age, we start to be more vulnerable to a range of health problems.

That said, it’s generally assumed that we don’t need to start worrying too much about our health failing because our bodies are starting to break down until we’re over the age of 60. The findings of the study from Duke University researchers, entitled “Disparities in the pace of biological aging among midlife adults of the same chronological age have implications for future frailty risk and policy,” suggest age-related health issues start to present themselves much earlier than expected in many adults.

The study’s roots actually date back to the 1970s. That’s when researchers enrolled 1,037 babies born in 1972 and 1973 to continue monitoring their health in various ways over the years. Currently, approximately 90 percent of those initially enrolled still participate.

In the context of this particular study, researchers found that by the time a person reaches the age of 45, depending on various factors, they may have aged significantly more rapidly than someone else in their age group. In other words, some 45-year-olds develop health issues related to aging much earlier than others.

Again, these findings indicate there are likely various reasons this is the case. Genetics almost certainly impact how quickly someone ages from a health perspective.

However, the data shows that dental health can be a significant indicator of how rapidly or slowly someone has aged in regard to physical wellness. Basically, many adults over the age of 45 already struggle with significant oral and dental health issues that we typically would associate with the elderly.

This serves as a reminder of just how important it is to stay on top of dental and oral health by not only practicing good hygiene but also coordinating with specialists. Once more, the degree to which someone has or has not sought regular care from physicians and dentists isn’t the only factor that may influence how quickly their health begins to deteriorate, but it’s definitely a critical one. 

It’s been well-established for quite some time that taking preventive measures by scheduling regular dental appointments substantially reduces one’s risk of developing various oral health problems. Now that we have evidence indicating the types of dental health issues that we think of as affecting “old people” actually affect the middle-aged, it’s even clearer that middle-aged adults must prioritize their oral health to the same degree as a senior citizen should. 

Doing so can have a significant impact on the aging process.