Mind your teeth-The relationship between mastication and cognition

Gerodontology. 2019 Mar;36(1):2-7. doi: 10.1111/ger.12380. Epub 2018 Nov 27.


This article explores the multifactorial relationship between mastication and cognition, with a focus on dementia. Older persons, especially those with dementia, are at great risk of suffering from oral health problems such as orofacial pain and loss of natural teeth. A possible explanation could be that the cognitive and motor impairments resulting from dementia cause a decrease in self-care and as such, a worsening of oral health. An alternative explanation is that cognition and oral health influence each other. Animal studies show that a decrease in masticatory activity, for example, due to a soft diet or loss of teeth, causes memory loss and neuronal degeneration. The relationship between mastication and cognition has also been researched in human studies, but a cause-effect relationship has not been proven. It is likely that multiple factors play a role in this relationship, such as self-care, nutrition, stress and pain.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Brain / physiology
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Dementia / complications
  • Dementia / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Mastication / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Animal