Research reveals that a bad oral health routine is linked with increased risk of diseases such as diabetes.
It also showed it is associated with an increased risk of sarcopenia, which is loss of muscle and weakness due to ageing.
The answer? Early interventions to make sure we maintain our chewing ability, according to scientists.
This could be done through the prevention of tooth loss and the use of dentures. Both of which have been suggested as crucial to reducing the likelihood of ageing-related diseases.
The study – carried out at Shimane University in Izumo, Japan – asked participants to chew a sweet as energetically as they could for 15 seconds. They were then asked to spit out what was left.
They also counted the number of teeth of each participant, as well as measuring their calf circumference for both legs, their skeletal muscle mass and handgrip strength.
It revealed that having fewer teeth and a poor chewing ability were 'significantly associated' with diabetes and a weaker handgrip.
This could be due to eating softer, sugar-rich foods and having shorter mealtimes. Both would likely lead to a boost in blood glucose levels after eating.
The researchers wrote:
'Our findings suggest that improvement in oral health, including the maintenance of masticatory function and remaining teeth, may contribute to the prevention of sarcopenia and diabetes mellitus in older adults.'
Dr Shozo Yano advises older people to eat more slowly and brush their teeth shortly after eating their meals.
The associations between diabetes and sarcopenia, and oral frailty was statistically significant – between 2 to 6%.
Researchers, however, admitted more studies need to be carried out into the associations.