Researchers at Newcastle University have revealed that tooth loss should be seen as a serious condition, as some patients who have to deal with losing teeth have described the distress as comparable to that of losing a limb. Several participants said that they avoided leaving the house after suffering tooth loss and others reported that they felt like failures because they needed dentures to replace lost teeth.
According to the study, which has been published in the journal Sociology of Health and Illness, tooth loss can be as disruptive to people’s lives as some chronic medical conditions. Researcher Dr Nikki Rousseau said ‘We were surprised by the impact that tooth loss had on people. Tooth loss isn’t usually thought of as an illness or taken as seriously as needing a knee replacement for example. People feel it’s acceptable to make jokes about false teeth, but we may have underestimated the distress that tooth loss causes.’
Thirty-nine adults from the North-East of England, aging between mid-twenties and eighty, were asked about their experiences with tooth loss and the subsequent treatment for it. Following the startling results, Dr Catherine Exley, project leader and senior lecturer at Newcastle University, said ‘Maybe that is something we need to look at and we should start to view tooth loss more like a chronic illness which needs to be treated.’