Good oral health helps protect against cognitive decline. According to a study conducted by NYU researchers Rory Meyers College of Nursing, and published in JAMDA: The Journal of Post- Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine, the tooth loss represents a risk factor for cognitive impairment and dementia. The researchers add that with each lost tooth the risk of cognitive decline increases. As a clarification, this risk was not significant in the elderly wearing dentures, suggesting that a rapid treatment with dentures would protect against cognitive decline.
Previous studies have established a link between tooth loss and decreased cognitive function. How to explain such a correlation? Missing teeth can lead to difficulty chewing, which can contribute to nutritional deficiencies or promote changes in the brain. A growing body of research also indicates a link between gum disease, one of the main causes of tooth loss, and cognitive decline.
“Given the overwhelming number of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia each year, and the potential to improve oral health throughout life, it is important to better understand the link between poor oral health and cognitive decline, ”said Bei Wu, professor of global health at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing and lead author of the study.
Take care of your teeth
Together with his colleagues, they 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 reduced cognitive function. Results? Researchers found that adults with more tooth loss had a risk 1.48 times higher to develop tcognitive rubles and 1.28 times the risk of being diagnosed with dementia. Additionally, those with fewer teeth were more likely to have cognitive impairment if they did not have a denture (23.8%) compared to those with a denture (16.9%).
According to their analyzes, they found that each missing tooth additional was associated with a 1.4% increased risk of cognitive impairment and a 1.1% increased risk of being diagnosed with dementia. “This ‘dose-response’ relationship between the number of missing teeth and the risk of decreased cognitive function considerably strengthens the evidence linking tooth loss to cognitive impairment, and provides evidence that tooth loss may in fact predict cognitive decline“Sums up Xiang Qi, a NYU Meyers doctoral student. One more reason to make oral hygiene a concern of all ages.