Fewer Teeth Linked To Greater Cognitive Decline

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Elham Emami, DDS, MSc, PhD Professeure agrégée Faculté de médecine dentaire École de santé publique, Département de médecine sociale et préventive Université de Montréal Montréal (Québec) Canada

Dr. Elham Emami

Elham Emami, DDS, MSc, PhD
Director , Oral Health and Rehabilitation Research Unit & Associate Professor
Faculty of Dental Medicine & School of Public Health
Université de Montréal
Adjunct Professor McGill University

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Emami: Over the past 20 years, scientific evidence has shown that oral and general health are closely linked. Recently, studies have shown that there is also a link between the number of teeth an older person has and his/her cognitive status.

We carried out a meta-analysis using the data from these latter studies. Our results indicate that, taking into account socioeconomic differences and other potential confounding variables, a person with less than 20 teeth has a 20% greater risk of having cognitive decline (HR= 1.26, 95% CI = 1.14 to 1.40) and dementia (HR = 1.22, 95% CI = 1.04 to 1.43) than someone who has 20 or more teeth.

MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Emami: Although the mechanism for how this occurs is not yet well known, the results suggest that prevention of tooth loss should be a high priority for public health. With the rapid aging of the population and the fact that cognitive decline and dementia are major health problems in aging, these findings are a “wake-up” call for prevention and treatment of dental diseases.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Emami: Research is needed to determine what is the mechanism for this association, so that targeted therapies may be developed to treat/prevent cognitive decline and dementia in those who have lost teeth. Health care services research should target potential programs intended to prevent tooth loss and include economic evaluations that also consider the future costs of care for those with cognitive decline and dementia.

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Dr. Emami: Governments and public health decision-makers should consider this evidence when developing and evaluating programs intended to improve the health of their communities. At the end, I would like to thank the research team and specially Dr Diane Cerruti for their contributions to the study.

MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community.


Cerutti-Kopplin, J. Feine, D. M. Padilha, R. F. de Souza, M. Ahmadi, P. Rompre, L. Booij, E. Emami. Tooth Loss Increases the Risk of Diminished Cognitive Function: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JDR Clinical & Translational Research, 2016; 1 (1): 10 DOI:10.1177/2380084416633102

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Elham Emami, DDS, MSc, PhD (2016). Fewer Teeth Linked To Greater Cognitive Decline MedicalResearch.com

Last Updated on April 8, 2016 by Marie Benz MD FAAD