Tooth loss may increase your dementia risk

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In a recent study from NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing, researchers found tooth loss is a risk factor for cognitive impairment and dementia — and with each tooth lost, the risk of cognitive decline grows.

However, this risk was not strong among older adults with dentures, suggesting that timely treatment with dentures may protect against cognitive decline.

About one in six adults aged 65 or older have lost all of their teeth, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Prior studies show a connection between tooth loss and diminished cognitive function, with researchers offering a range of possible explanations for this link.

For one, missing teeth can lead to difficulty chewing, which may contribute to nutritional deficiencies or promote changes in the brain.

A growing body of research also points to a connection between gum disease — a leading cause of tooth loss — and cognitive decline. In addition, tooth loss may reflect life-long socioeconomic disadvantages that are also risk factors for cognitive decline.

In the study, the team did 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 1.48 times higher risk of developing cognitive impairment and a 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%).

Further analysis revealed that the association between tooth loss and cognitive impairment was not significant when participants had dentures.

The researchers also found each additional missing tooth was linked to a 1.4% increased risk of cognitive impairment and 1.1% increased risk of being diagnosed with dementia.

They say this ‘dose-response’ link between the number of missing teeth and the risk of diminished cognitive function substantially strengthens the evidence linking tooth loss to cognitive impairment.

It provides some evidence that tooth loss may predict cognitive decline.

If you care about dementia, please read studies about 40% of dementia cases could be prevented by avoiding 12 things throughout life and findings of this gut problem may double your dementia risk.

For more information about dementia and your health, please see recent studies about antibiotics could be promising treatment for this type of dementia and results showing a new, complex form of dementia.

The study is published in JAMDA: The Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine. One author of the study is Bei Wu, PhD.

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