The effect of tooth loss on gait stability of community-dwelling older adults

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Objective:To investigate the effects of tooth loss on gait stability in a healthy elderly population.Methods:A case–control study was conducted among healthy and prosthetically well-restored seniors over the age of 65 years. The test group comprised 24 edentulous participants who were restored with complete dentures in the upper jaw and an overdenture fixed on two implants in the lower jaw. The control group comprised 25 dentate participants who either still had their natural teeth or were restored with conventional fixed partial dentures. Gait stability was evaluated by measuring the parameters ‘gait velocity’ and ‘cycle-time variability’ during self-selected normal walking speed and under dual-task performance conditions. Measurements were conducted using the GAITRite® electronic walkway system.Results:Dentated and fixed restored participants (the control group) had a significantly higher gait velocity compared with denture wearers (the test group) under both normal walking (p = 0.03) and dual-task performance conditions (p = 0.01). In each test condition, among edentulous participants, gait velocity did not significantly differ according to whether the participant wore their dentures.Conclusion:The present results suggest that tooth loss in healthy seniors is associated with lower gait velocity and therefore may have a negative impact on gait stability.

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