Background: Numerous studies have linked dementia to the subsequent deterioration of oral health. Few investigators, however, have examined oral disease as a potential risk factor in the development of dementia. The authors conducted a study to investigate a potential association between a history of oral disease and the development of dementia.
Methods: Longitudinal dental records supplemented data collected from 10 annual cognitive assessments of 144 Milwaukee participants in the Nun Study, a longitudinal study of aging and Alzheimer disease, who were 75 to 98 years old. Neuropathologic findings at autopsy were available for 118 participants who died.
Results: A low number of teeth increased the risk of higher prevalence and incidence of dementia.
Conclusion: Participants with the fewest teeth had the highest risk of prevalence and incidence of dementia.
Clinical implications: Edentulism or very few (one to nine) teeth may be predictors of dementia late in life.