• the elderly;
  • oral conditions;
  • chewing ability;
  • physical performance

doi: 10.1111/j.1741-2358.2011.00563.x Influence of dental treatment on physical performance in community-dwelling elderly persons

Objective:  The aim of the study was to investigate the influence of dental treatment on physical performance (muscle strength and balance function) among the elderly.

Background:  Oral conditions have been associated with physical performance. We hypothesised that improved oral conditions by dental treatment would lead to improved physical performance.

Methods:  A total of 154 persons aged 65 years or over were judged to be in need of dental treatment as a result of dental examination; of these, 121 persons underwent dental treatment. After 1 year, differences in each parameter of physical performance before and after the intervention were evaluated using the Wilcoxon signed rank sum test. The Spearman rank correlation coefficient was calculated to examine correlations between changes in self-assessed masticatory ability (masticatory ability) and each parameter of physical performance, and multivariate logistic regression analysis was performed using changes in each parameter of physical performance as the dependent variable and changes in masticatory ability as the principal independent variable.

Results:  Improved physical performance was not observed for the total study population with dental treatment; however, in subjects with improved masticatory ability, one-leg standing times with eyes open increased significantly. A significant correlation was established between changes in masticatory ability and each parameter of physical performance. These relationships were not found in those without dental treatment. A significant relationship was also established for one-leg standing time after adjusting for age, gender, dentition status and needs of dental treatments.

Conclusion:  Chewing ability may be a positive contributing factor to balance function among the elderly.