We aimed to examine the number of teeth and masticatory function as oral health indices and clarify their roles in the pathogenesis of sarcopenia and diabetes mellitus in community-dwelling older adults.
Subjects and methods
This cross-sectional study was conducted with 635 older adults in Ohnan, Shimane Prefecture, in rural Japan. The number of teeth and masticatory function (measured by the number of gummy jelly pieces collected after chewing) were evaluated by dental hygienists. Sarcopenia status was assessed using handgrip strength, skeletal muscle index, calf circumference, and a possible sarcopenia diagnosis based on the Asian Working Group for Sarcopenia 2019. Diabetes mellitus status was defined as a hemoglobin A1c level ≥6.5% or self-reported diabetes. A multivariable logistic regression model was used to analyze the association between oral health, sarcopenia, and diabetes mellitus after adjusting for confounders.
After adjusting for all confounders, logistic regression analysis showed that the number of remaining teeth was negatively associated with a low level of handgrip strength (odds ratio [OR], 0.961; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.932–0.992) and possible sarcopenia (OR, 0.949; 95% CI, 0.907–0.992). Higher levels of masticatory function were also negatively associated with a low level of handgrip strength (OR, 0.965; 95% CI, 0.941–0.990) and possible sarcopenia (OR, 0.941; 95% CI, 0.904–0.979). Logistic regression analysis showed that the number of remaining teeth and a higher level of masticatory function were negatively associated with diabetes mellitus (OR, 0.978; 95% CI, 0.957–0.999; OR, 0.976; 95% CI, 0.960–0.992, respectively).
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.