Washington: Oral health is an important healthcare ritual that everyone needs to follow every day. But poor oral health is linked to a decreased quality of life, along with depression, hypertension, and cognitive decline, researchers have found.
The studies published in the 'Journal of the American Geriatrics Society' had researchers interview over 2700 Chinese Americans of and above the age of 60. They found that nearly 50 per cent of the participants reported experiencing tooth symptoms, 25.5 per cent reported dry mouth.
In the first study, those who reported tooth symptoms experienced a decline in cognition and episodic memory, often precursors to dementia. In the second study, the researchers found that stress increased symptoms of dry mouth, leading to poorer overall oral health.
"Racial and ethnic minorities are particularly vulnerable to the negative consequences of poor oral health," said XinQi Dong, director of Rutgers University's Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research.
"Minorities have less access to preventive dental care that is further exacerbated by language barriers and low socioeconomic status. Older Chinese Americans are at particular risk for experiencing oral health symptoms due to lack of dental insurance or not visiting a dental clinic regularly," added Dong.
Among the key findings put forth by this study was the fact that 47.8 per cent of older Chinese Americans reported having teeth symptoms; participants who reported teeth symptoms at baseline experienced their global cognition and episodic memory decline.
Another 18.9 per cent of older Chinese Americans reported gum symptoms. 15.6 per cent of them reported teeth and gum symptoms with 25.5 per cent reporting dry mouth. More perceived stress was associated with higher odds of dry mouth.
"In our study, the prevalence rate of dry mouth is followed by diabetes and heart disease. Our findings demonstrate the importance of studying the linkage between stress and dry mouth in this vulnerable population." said author Weiyu Mao, Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, University of Nevada, Reno.