According to new results from the English Longitudinal Study of Aging (ELSA), people who lose their teeth have both worse memory and slower walking speeds by about 10%.

A Large, Comprehensive Study

ELSA is a study of more than 3100 adults aged 60 and over. These adults were given a wide range of tests of both physical and mental acuity. For the purposes of this study, researchers looked at memory and walking speed. They found that the adults who had lost all their teeth performed worse on memory and walking speed tests.

The differences were greater for the younger subset of study participants, those aged 60 to 74, and researchers point out that early tooth loss could be used as an important marker of elevated risk of other problems.

An elderly man walking a trailPhysical Difference Unaccounted for

Along with their basic information and test results, participants in the study gave data on a wide range of sociodemographic factors, including existing health problems, physical health, health-related lifestyle choices, biomarkers, education, and economic class.

After correcting for all sociodemographic factors, researchers found that the loss of teeth wasn’t really responsible for poorer memory. Instead, factors like education, lifestyle, class, and health accounted for the memory differences.

But even after correcting for all other factors, people without teeth still walked slower than those with teeth.

The Difference Dentures Can Make

This difference is not surprising, because it’s well known that teeth play an important role in stabilizing the body, especially for walking. If a person has lost all their teeth, they do not have the support and balance provided by the jaw.


Dental implants can help restore the function of your jaw to improve walking. Even if you don’t get dental implants, well-designed and properly fitting dentures can provide additional stability.

If you have noticed that your walking has slowed down since you lost your teeth and you want quality dentures to help improve your ability to get around, please call (949) 551-5902 for an appointment with an Orange County cosmetic dentist at Rice Dentistry in Irvine.