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[TOOTHLESS] Tooth loss tied to cognitive impairment, dementia

Tooth loss is a risk factor for cognitive impairment and dementia -- and with each tooth lost, the risk of cognitive decline grows, according to a new analysis. However, the risk was not significant among older adults with dentures, suggesting that timely treatment with dentures may protect against cognitive decline.

The researchers conducted a meta-analysis of 14 studies including more than 34,000 adults, 4,689 of whom had diminished cognitive function. They found that adults with more tooth loss had a 1.48 times higher risk of developing cognitive impairment and 1.28 times higher risk of being diagnosed with dementia, even after controlling for other factors.

However, adults missing teeth were more likely to have cognitive impairment if they did not have dentures (23.8%) compared to those with dentures (16.9%).

The researchers also conducted an analysis using a subset of eight studies to determine if there was a "dose-response" association between tooth loss and cognitive impairment -- in other words, if a greater number of missing teeth was linked to a higher risk for cognitive decline. Their findings confirmed this relationship: each additional missing tooth was associated with a 1.4% increased risk of cognitive impairment and 1.1% increased risk of being diagnosed with dementia.

"This 'dose-response' relationship between the number of missing teeth and risk of diminished cognitive function substantially strengthens the evidence linking tooth loss to cognitive impairment, and provides some evidence that tooth loss may predict cognitive decline,” the researchers suggest.

The bottom line: Maintain good oral health to help preserve cognitive function.

To read the abstract, click here

 

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