Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Tooth Loss Linked to Memory Loss?

Dentures in a glass of water by the bedside

An interesting study but dementia would seem to be so multi-factoral in causation.
Elderly people who lose their teeth may be at increased risk for dementia, researchers have found.

The new study included more than 4,000 Japanese participants, 65 and older, who underwent a dental examination and a psychiatric assessment. Compared with participants who still had many of their natural teeth, those with fewer or no teeth were much more likely to have experienced some memory loss or have early-stage Alzheimer's disease.

The findings were published online Dec. 31 in Behavioral and Brain Functions.
The Journal article is here.

Background: This cross-sectional study investigated the relationship between the number of remaining teeth to mild memory impairment (MMI), which is a preclinical stage of dementia, and to cognitive impairment.

Methods: The subjects were aged 65 years or older and were grouped according to their score for the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), the three-word delayed recall test in the MMSE, and the Geriatric Depression Scale into the control group (n = 3,696), the MMI group (n = 121), and the low MMSE score (23 or lower) group (n = 214). We collected data on the number of remaining teeth, the length of the edentulous period, health-related lifestyle, medical history, blood pressure, height, and body weight. Fasting venous blood samples were also obtained.

Results: Multiple logistic regression analysis, adjusted for depressive symptoms, age, sex, length of education, and other explanatory variables, revealed that the odds ratios of 0–10 remaining teeth to 22–32 remaining teeth were 1.679 (95% CI 1.073–2.627) for MMI and 2.177 (95% CI 1.510–3.140) for a low MMSE score. A significant relationship was also found between the length of the edentulous period and the risk of a low MMSE score (odds ratio 3.102, 95% CI 1.432–6.720) (15 years or more/less than 15 years).

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that tooth loss is associated with cognitive function.

Further study into causational links is definitely warranted.