May 24, 2024

Study Reveals the Indirect Effect of Oral Health on Subjective Psychological Well-Being in Older Adults

Investing time and effort into maintaining good oral health can have numerous health benefits for older adults. Not only does it reduce the risk of systemic diseases, but a recent study suggests that oral health also indirectly influences subjective psychological well-being. The research, led by Senior Assistant Professor Noriko Takeuchi from the Department of Preventive Dentistry at Okayama University Hospital, found that oral health affects well-being through its impact on nutritional status and the individual’s environment.

The study, published in PLOS ONE, involved a team of researchers including Dr. Daisuke Ekuni from the Department of Preventive Dentistry at the Graduate School of Medicine, Dentistry, and Pharmaceutical Sciences at Okayama University, Dr. Nanami Sawada from the Department of Preventive Dentistry at Okayama University Hospital, and Dr. Manabu Morita from the Department of Oral Health at Takarazuka University of Medical and Health Care.

The researchers examined oral conditions such as bacterial load in the tongue coating, chewing and swallowing abilities, among other factors, in older adults visiting a dental clinic at Okayama University Hospital. They then assessed how these measurements correlated with the participants’ self-reported psychological well-being. Additionally, they measured participants’ nutritional status and environmental characteristics, including social connections, habits, and medical history.

Dr. Takeuchi explains that the study aimed to evaluate the link between individual and environmental characteristics, oral condition, and nutritional status in relation to subjective well-being among older adults, as previous studies on the relationship between oral health and psychological well-being have been limited.

The findings of the study indicated that oral condition is closely related to nutritional status, which in turn, is associated with subjective well-being in older adults. The condition of an individual’s mouth affects the types of food they can consume, thereby influencing their nutritional intake and overall health status.

Dr. Takeuchi emphasizes that maintaining good oral health can help improve nutritional status, which then has a positive effect on subjective psychological well-being.

The study also found evidence of a bidirectional connection between oral health and an individual’s individual and social environment. Poor social relationships lead to psychological stress, which can result in habits such as smoking and excessive sweet consumption. These habits, in turn, increase the risk of cavities, gum disease, and tooth loss.

Furthermore, the study highlights the connection between a person’s environmental characteristics and their nutritional status. Overall, the findings suggest that oral health may not directly impact subjective well-being but rather has an indirect effect through nutritional status or environmental characteristics.

As Japan’s population continues to age rapidly, geriatric care is becoming increasingly important. This study provides valuable insights into the extended effects of oral health on mental health and indicates that investing in oral health can yield significant health benefits, particularly in old age.

Dr. Takeuchi concludes that while the cross-sectional study has some limitations, the results underscore the potential long-term benefits of good oral health in improving subjective psychological well-being.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
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