Tooth Loss and Cognitive Impairment

Posted by AESTHETIC DENTISTRY on Jul 14 2021, 10:53 AM

Tooth Loss and Cognitive Impairment

As we get older, many of our body systems begin to change. Our teeth age, and may become so damaged they need to be pulled, and our cognitive function may decline as well. But are these problems preventable? They could be, according to a new study by the NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing and published in JAMDA, The Journal of Post Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine.

The study, which looked at 34,074 adults, 4,689 of whom had decreased cognitive function, found that among those who did have missing teeth (an estimated one in six people over age 65 are missing all of their natural teeth) instances of diminished cognitive function were higher than those who were not missing teeth. In fact, among adults with tooth loss, they were 1.48 times more likely to have cognitive impairment and 1.28 more likely to be diagnosed with dementia. Researchers also noted that for every missing tooth, the patient’s risk for dementia and cognitive impairment increased.

Interestingly, those who had dentures or dental implants did not suffer as high of rates of declining cognitive function, leading researchers to believe that the ability of those with dentures or implants to chew and speak helped protect their cognitive functions. A staggering 23.8 percent of adults who did not have dentures were likely to suffer from cognitive impairment, while those with dentures were only 16.9 percent more likely to suffer from cognitive impairment.

Having dentures or dental implants is also great for mental health, as it boosts self-esteem and keeps people feeling social.

So, isn’t this just a part of aging that we all must accept? Or is it possible to reduce your risk of developing dementia and cognitive decline? It is possible, believe it or not, by taking better care of our oral health. Starting with brushing twice a day for at least two minutes at a time and flossing twice a day, we can protect our teeth from tooth loss and our gums from periodontal disease. This can help us hold on to our natural teeth for as long as possible, and hopefully reduce our risk of dementia and cognitive impairment in the meantime.

Furthermore, regular cleanings and dental exams can help keep on top of our oral health, making sure there are no problems like cavities or gum disease lurking in our mouths that could become bigger problems if left untreated.

To schedule your annual or biannual dental exam, please contact Dr. Abelar’s office today.

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