Tooth Loss and Cognitive Decline

A recent study, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, investigated the connection between tooth loss and physical or cognitive health, examining information from the Japan Gerontological Evaluation Study (JAGES) project. The JAGES project is one of the largest nation-wide research projects on aging, with more than 100,000 participants. By examining survey results, researchers looked to determine the benefits of good oral health on aging individuals.

In this study, the research team looked at more than 60,000 community-dwelling people who were aged 65 and older, and who did not meet the Japanese criteria for needing long-term care. According to an article from Science Daily, participants were given questionnaires covering a variety of material, including:

  • How many teeth they had
  • Their medical and mental health history
  • How many falls they had over the last year
  • Whether they smoked or drank alcohol
  • Their body weight
  • How well they were able to perform common activities of daily life

Through their analysis, the researchers were able to conclude that older adults who have experienced significant tooth loss are less functional than those who have lost fewer teeth. While the direct relationship between tooth loss and physical or cognitive health is unknown, the team was able to suggest that it is crucial that older adults receive the needed support to maintain good oral health and receive adequate dental care.

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