Research led by the University of Leeds School of Dentistry has associated poor cognitive function in older adults with poorer oral health and higher risk of tooth loss in later life.
The study included 4,416 adults in the United Kingdom age 50 or older whose cognitive function was assessed in 2002 and 2003 as part of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. The subjects then reported the number of teeth they had remaining and the general status of their oral health in 2014 and 2015.
When cognitive function scores were 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 risk 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, BSc, PhD, of the Division of Clinical and Translation Research at the University of Leeds School of Dentistry.
“The findings indicate that an improvement in cognitive function could potentially improve oral health and reduce the risk of tooth loss in the aging population,” Wu said.
The study, “Cognitive Function and Oral Health Among Ageing Adults,” was published by Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology.