Dementia is one of the most rapidly growing health conditions worldwide. As dementia progresses, the quality of life and independence for patients is significantly reduced. Unfortunately, we don’t yet clearly understand the process by which cognitive function is lost in dementia.
However, several studies conducted over the last decade have found an association between tooth loss and risk of developing dementia. A review of all the current evidence in 2016 estimated an almost 50% increase in relative risk of dementia with increasing loss of teeth. Research suggests that chronic inflammation and loss of teeth from conditions such as periodontal disease can contribute to the degeneration of cognitive function seen in dementia.
Interestingly, risk of dementia was reduced in people who had maintained chewing function by replacing missing teeth with dentures or implants. Regular tooth brushing was also found to be important in preventing chronic oral disease and reducing risk of dementia.
You can read Shen et al’s recently published article here for more detailed information on the link between dementia and tooth loss. Feel free to call our practice to speak to one of our dental health professionals if you would like to discuss any concerns you may have on this topic.
Shen T, Lv J, Wang L, Wang W, Zhang D. Association between tooth loss and dementia among older people: a meta-analysis. Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2016 Aug;31(8):953-5. doi: 10.1002/gps.4396.
Paganini-Hill A, White SC, Atchison KA. Dentition, dental health habits, and dementia: the Leisure World Cohort Study. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2012 Aug;60(8):1556-63. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2012.04064.x.
Stewart R, Stenman U, Hakeberg M, Hägglin C, Gustafson D, Skoog I. Associations between oral health and risk of dementia in a 37-year follow-up study: the prospective population study of women in Gothenburg. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2015 Jan;63(1):100-5. doi: 10.1111/jgs.13194.