Tooth Loss Not Independently Linked to Cognitive Function

Periodontitis along with older age, low socioeconomic status tied to poor cognition

FRIDAY, April 22 (HealthDay News) -- Tooth loss due to periodontitis is not independently associated with reduced cognitive function, but may be a marker for poor cognitive function when combined with low socioeconomic status (SES) and advanced age, according to a study published in the April 1 issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association.

Jonathan C. Matthews, D.M.D., M.S.P.H., from the University of Alabama in Birmingham, and colleagues investigated the relationship between tooth loss and cognitive function in 9,853 participants of the REasons for Geographic And Racial Differences in Stroke study who were 45 years of age or older. Cognitive function was assessed by word list learning assessment, and potential confounding variables were identified in a cross-sectional analysis of the data.

The investigators found that, compared to no tooth loss, the loss of six to 16 teeth or more than 16 teeth were both associated with poorer cognitive function, in unadjusted analysis. This correlation persisted after adjusting for demographic and systemic risk factors, including body mass index and C-reactive protein. After adjusting for SES, there was no association between tooth loss and cognitive functions.

"The main finding of our study was that tooth loss due to periodontitis was not associated independently with lower scores for learning and recall in our full regression models. We accounted for the associations seen in earlier models by adjusting for other risk factors, mainly age and SES," the authors write.

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