The loss of teeth is known to influence the mastication of foods and nutritional status. Therefore, we hypothesize that poor dentition status can impair the systemic health of the aged. To clarify the influence of dentition status on deterioration in physical ability, mental impairment, and mortality, we conducted a six-year prospective cohort study of the institutionalized elderly living in 29 of the 30 institutions for the elderly in Kitakyushu, Japan. Bivariate analysis revealed that worse dentition status at baseline led to significantly worse physical and mental impairment, and higher mortality. In a multiple logistic regression analysis, the physical ability of edentulous subjects without dentures significantly deteriorated compared with that of dentate subjects with 20 or more teeth. The six-year mortality rate of the edentulous subjects without dentures was significantly higher than that of the subjects with 20 or more teeth. Poorer dentition status, especially edentulousness without dentures, may therefore be related to deterioration in the systemic health of the aged.
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