A study published in Community Dentistry & Oral Epidemiology has found that poor cognitive function in older adults is associated with poorer oral health and higher risk of tooth loss in later life.
The study included 4,416 UK adults aged 50 years or older whose cognitive function was assessed between 2002–2003. Participants then reported the number of teeth they had remaining and their general oral health status in 2014–2015.
When cognitive function score was categorized into quintiles, there was a clear gradient association between cognitive function and tooth loss. People in the lowest quintile reflecting poorer cognitive function had a 39% higher odds of tooth loss than those in the highest quintile. A similar magnitude and direction of association was evident between cognitive function and self-rated oral health.
“Our study suggested a close link between cognitive function and oral health in older adults,” said senior author Dr. Jianhua Wu, of the University of Leeds. “The findings indicate that an improvement in cognitive function could potentially improve oral health and reduce the risk of tooth loss in the ageing population.”
Study reference: Kang J, Wu B, Bunce D, Ide M, Pavitt S, Wu J. Cognitive function and oral health among ageing adults. Community Dentistry & Oral Epidemiology. 2019;00:1–8. https://doi.org/10.1111/cdoe.12452