How does tooth loss affect the risk of dementia?
The loss of teeth appears to play an important role in the development of cognitive impairment and dementia. The risk of cognitive decline seems to increase with every tooth lost. How great is this risk and can timely dental treatment protect against the cognitive decline that occurs?
A research group with the participation of researchers from New York University now examined how tooth loss affects the risk of developing dementia and the general decline in cognitive abilities. The results of the analysis can be found in the English-language journal “The Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine” (JAMDA).
Relationship between tooth loss and cognition
The experts report that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States, about one in six adults by the age of 65 or more has already lost all of their teeth. Previous study results have also shown a connection between tooth loss and decreased cognitive function, with a number of possible explanations for this connection.
Why does tooth loss worsen cognitive function?
Missing teeth make chewing difficult, which can contribute to nutritional deficiencies or encourage changes in the brain. A growing body of research is also pointing to a link between gum disease – a leading cause of tooth loss – and cognitive decline, the team said. In addition, tooth loss could reflect a lifelong socio-economic disadvantage, which is also a risk factor for cognitive decline.
Alzheimer’s and dementia are on the rise
“With the staggering number of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and dementia each year and the opportunity to improve oral health over the lifespan, it is important to gain a deeper understanding of the link between poor oral health and cognitive decline” , emphasizes the study author Professor Dr. With Wu from New York University.
The research group performed a meta-analysis of longitudinal studies of tooth loss and cognitive impairment. For this purpose, 14 studies were evaluated, which included a total of 34,074 adults. Decreased cognitive function was found in 4,689 participants.
How much does tooth loss increase the risk of dementia?
The experts found in their investigation that adults with more tooth loss had a 1.48 times higher risk of developing cognitive impairment and a 1.28 times higher risk of diagnosing dementia. This increased risk persisted even when other possible factors were taken into account.
Dentures protect against cognitive impairment
The team noticed that adults with tooth loss had a higher risk of cognitive impairment if they did not have dentures (23.8 percent) compared to people who had dentures (16.9 percent). An additional analysis finally showed that the association between tooth loss and cognitive impairment was not significant if the participants had dentures, the experts report.
The researchers also performed another analysis with a subset of eight studies. The aim was to determine whether there is a dose-response relationship between tooth loss and cognitive impairment. In other words, is a higher number of missing teeth associated with a higher risk of cognitive deterioration?
More lost teeth led to a higher risk
Indeed, the results confirmed such a link. The experts report that each additional missing tooth was associated with a 1.4 percent increased risk of cognitive impairment and a 1.1 percent increased risk of dementia.
Tooth loss can predict cognitive decline
“This dose-response relationship between the number of missing teeth and the risk of decreased cognitive function greatly strengthens the evidence linking tooth loss to cognitive impairment and provides some evidence that tooth loss can predict cognitive decline,” explains Study author Xiang Qi from New York University in a press release.
“Our results underscore the importance of maintaining good oral health and its role in maintaining cognitive function,” adds study author Professor Dr. Wu added. (as)
Author and source information
This text complies with the requirements of specialist medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical professionals.
- Xiang Qi, Zheng Zhu, Brenda L. Plassman, Bei Wu: Dose-Response Meta-Analysis on Tooth Loss With the Risk of Cognitive Impairment and Dementia, in The Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine (veröffentlicht 08.07.2021), JAMDA
- New York University: Tooth loss associated with increased cognitive impairment, dementia (veröffentlicht 08.07.2021), New York University
This article is for general guidance only and is not intended to be used for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. He can not substitute a visit at the doctor.