Having friends and socialising can improve oral health in elderly people


Older adults who socialise have a higher chance of maintaining good oral health.

This is according to a new research study looking into the benefits of social interactions among the elderly. 

Carried out by a team at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing, the findings revealed the many oral benefits of meeting up with friends and family. 

Risk factors

Isolation and loneliness widely affect elderly people across the world. According to the WHO, other risk factors include mental health disorders, heart disease and cognitive decline.

'Our study suggests that maintaining and improving social connections may benefit the oral health of older adults.' said Xiang Qi, a PhD student at NYU Meyers and the study's first author. 

'The findings align with previous studies demonstrating that structural indicators of social disconnection can have powerful effects on indicators of health and well-being.'

Older adults are also at a much higher risk of losing teeth. For example in China, those aged 65 to 74 years old had fewer than 23 teeth on average. Typically, adults have 32 teeth, or 28 if wisdom teeth have been removed. 

Around 4.5% of this age group had lost all of their teeth.

Who was surveyed?

Researchers analysed more than 4,200 adults aged 65 and up.

Surveys were carried out at in 2011-12, 2014, and 2018. These looked at measures of social isolation and loneliness, the number of teeth in the mouth and how many participants had lost over the seven year study.

More than a quarter (27.5%) were classed as socially isolated, and 26.5% reported loneliness.

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