CHICAGO, Sept. 10 -- Changes in diet because of tooth loss could increase the risk of developing chronic ailments, including cardiovascular disease, according to a study in this month's Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA).
In the study, researchers assessed the relationship between tooth loss and changes in diet over an eight-year period among 31,813 male health professionals. They focused on consumption of specific foods and nutrients associated with cardiovascular and other systemic diseases. These included fruits, vegetables, certain vitamins, fiber, cholesterol and specific types of fats.
"The results of this study support the detrimental impact of tooth loss on dietary intake," the Harvard University researchers concluded. "Our results suggest that changes in diet owing to tooth loss could contribute to an increased risk of chronic disease that has been associated with poor dentition."
During the study period from 1986 to 1994, 78.3 percent of the men did not lose teeth, 18.8 percent lost one to four teeth, and 2.8 percent lost five or more teeth.
In general, the researchers reported that study participants changed their diet in a healthier manner over the eight years. They reduced their consumption of saturated fat and cholesterol, and increased their consumption of most beneficial nutrients and fruits and vegetables. However, according to the study, the dietary change of men who lost five or more teeth was unhealthier than that of men who lost no teeth. For example, men who lost five or more teeth had a greater reduction in intake of vitamin E, a significantly smaller reduction in consumption of dietary cholesterol and a smaller increase in their intake of dietary fiber and whole fruits than those who did not lose any teeth. In contrast, men without tooth loss had greater reductions in daily dietary intake of saturated fat and cholesterol. They also had greater increases in dietary fiber, carotene and fruits compared with men who lost teeth. Researchers also found that men who lost more teeth were more likely to stop eating hard-to-chew foods such as apples, pears and raw carrots while they maintained similar or increased consumption of soft foods such as bananas, cantaloupes and cooked carrots.
Note: Although this article appears in the Journal of the American Dental Association, it does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of the American Dental Association.
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