Tooth loss has been found to be a risk factor for dementia and cognitive impairment, according to an analysis published in JAMDA: The Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine done by researchers at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing. It was found that with loss of each tooth the risk of cognitive impairment increases. This can be linked directly to the fact that loss of Teeth can lead to reduced Nutrition, with loss of teeth the ability of chewing food and the type of food consumed changes drastically. This can lead to reduced Nutrition leading to changes in the brain.

It was also found that elder patients who had dentures or got their teeth replaced immediately after losing them were not having any significant changes in cognitive function or dementia, suggesting that replacement of missing teeth has helped in maintaining the nutrition. When the patient is unable to replace teeth after loosing it, it indirectly relates to a low socioeconomic status which is also a major factor for cognitive decline.

Bei Wu, PhD, Dean’s Professor in Global Health at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing and co-director of the NYU Aging Incubator, as well as the study’s senior author, said

“Given the staggering number of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia each year, and the opportunity to improve oral health across the lifespan, it’s important to gain a deeper understanding of the connection between poor oral health and cognitive decline”

Wu and her colleagues conducted a meta-analysis using longitudinal studies of tooth loss and cognitive impairment. The 14 studies included in their analysis involved a total of 34,074 adults and 4,689 cases of people with diminished cognitive function. The researchers 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 percent) compared to those with dentures (16.9 percent); a further analysis revealed that the association.

Based on the evidence stated, we can say that more the number of teeth missing, higher is the risk of diminished cognitive function. This strengthens the importance of maintaining good oral hygiene which in turn helps in maintaining good physical health as well as mental health.

References:

  1. 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