Tooth loss could be associated with lower cognitive function

U.S. researchers who investigated the extent to which oral health is associated with cognitive status have found that that tooth loss and periodontitis may be linked to lower cognitive function in middle-aged adults.

In the study, researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill analyzed data measuring cognitive function in 11,097 participants aged 45–64 from 1996 through 1998 according to tests of delayed word recall, digit–symbol substitution and word fluency. In addition, 5,942 of the 8,554 dentate participants underwent oral examinations to determine their dental status, number of teeth and periodontal status.

The researchers observed that edentulous participants had lower scores for all cognitive tests compared with dentate participants. Among the dentate participants, fewer teeth and gingival bleeding were associated with lower digit–symbol substitution and word fluency test scores.

Thus, the scientists concluded that the association of lower cognitive scores with edentulism suggests that past oral diseases may be a risk indicator for cognitive decline.

Data for the study was obtained from the national Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study, a prospective epidemiologic study conducted in four U.S. communities to investigate the causes of atherosclerosis and its clinical outcomes.

The study, “Cross-Sectional Associations of Oral Health Measures with Cognitive Function in Late Middle-Aged Adults: A Community-Based Study,” was published in the December issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association.

Original Source: The Dental