According to a recent study, it has been found out that tooth loss can be a risk factor for dementia and cognitive impairment. The study carried out at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing was also published by The Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine (JAMDA). The study focuses on the increasing risk of cognitive impairment in patients with missing teeth. The study also found that the risk of cognitive decline was not as relevant in denture wearers as it was in adults with missing teeth and non-denture wearers. These findings suggest that teeth replacement with the help of dental prostheses may have a protective effect against cognitive impairment.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that one in six adults aged 65 or above are entirely edentulous, meaning they have lost all their teeth. If we look at previously conducted studies, a connection between tooth loss and reduced cognitive functions has been suggested. There can be a plethora of reasons behind these findings. A loss of chewing capability is seen with increasing tooth loss. People with lost teeth tend to have poor nutrition because of a lack of chewing, which contributes to changes in the brain. A socioeconomic disadvantage may also be responsible for tooth loss and is a risk factor for cognitive decline.

The study’s senior author explained how important it was to understand the relationship between cognitive decline and tooth loss. With increasing cases of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, a need for improved oral health is apparent.

The team conducted a meta-analysis using longitudinal studies of tooth loss and cognitive impairment. Fourteen studies were taken into consideration which saw the participation of over 34,074 adults and 4,689 people with diminished cognitive function. They found that people with more tooth loss had a 1.48 times increased risk of developing cognitive impairment and 1.28 times greater risk of being diagnosed with dementia even after controlling all other factors.

However, it is also seen that non-denture wearers were more likely to have cognitive impairment compared to denture wearers.

The NYU researchers with a subset of eight studies also wanted to analyze if there was a “dose-response” association between tooth loss and cognitive decline. In other words, the team wanted to see if a higher number of lost teeth meant a higher risk of cognitive decline. The study’s results showed that there was a 1.4% higher risk of cognitive impairment with each lost tooth and a 1.1%  increased risk of suffering from dementia.

The valuable findings of the “dose-response” relationship between the number of lost teeth and the risk of reduced cognitive function nourish the importance of maintaining good oral hygiene in the prevention of gum diseases, eventual tooth loss, and maintaining the integrity of cognitive functions.

At Guelph Royal Dental Centre – Guelph Dentist Office, we care about your oral health and strive to provide you with the best possible treatment and care.  If you have any questions or would like to book an appointment, please contact us.


Story Source: Materials provided by New York University

Journal Reference: Xiang Qi, Zheng Zhu, Brenda L. Plassman, Bei Wu. Dose-Response Meta-Analysis on Tooth Loss With the Risk of Cognitive Impairment and DementiaJournal of the American Medical Directors Association, 2021; DOI: 10.1016/j.jamda.2021.05.009

DISCLAIMER: The advice offered is intended to be informational only and generic in nature. It is in no way offering a definitive diagnosis or specific treatment recommendations for your particular situation. Any advice offered is no substitute for proper evaluation and care by a qualified dentist.