Effect of oral health intervention on cognitive decline in community-dwelling older adults: A randomized controlled trial

Arch Gerontol Geriatr. 2021 Jan-Feb;92:104267. doi: 10.1016/j.archger.2020.104267. Epub 2020 Sep 28.


Purpose: The incidence of dementia is rapidly increasing worldwide, especially in developed countries. Little is known regarding the effectiveness of dental intervention to prevent dementia or a decline in cognitive functions among community-dwelling older adults, but a few studies have reported a correlation between the lack of regular dental checkups and dementia. For that reason, this study aimed to investigate the effects of oral health intervention on cognitive functions in community-dwelling subjects with a mild cognitive decline via a randomized controlled trial.

Patients and methods: Fifty-five community-dwelling older adults with a Mini-Mental State Examination score of ≥21 to ≤26 who had not visited a dental clinic in the previous year were randomized to an intervention group (n = 28) or a control group (n = 29). The intervention group received monthly oral health intervention by dental hygienists for 8 months while the control group did not. Data on demographics, cognitive function and oral parameters were collected before and after the intervention.

Results: Twenty-five subjects in the intervention group (mean age 77.0 years) and 25 in the control group (mean age 72.8 years) completed the study. Significant improvements were observed in the Trail Making Test (TMT)-A, TMT-B, bleeding on probing rate, oral diadochokinesis, tongue pressure and chewing ability in the intervention group (P < 0.05). There were also significant interactions between the TMT-A and TMT-B scores, oral diadochokinesis, tongue pressure and chewing ability (P < 0.05).

Conclusion: Oral health intervention by dental hygienists may be effective for improving the oral health and executive function of cognitive function assessed via TMT.

Keywords: cognitive function; dental hygienist; oral function exercises; oral hygiene instruction; randomized controlled trial.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cognition
  • Cognitive Dysfunction* / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Independent Living
  • Oral Health*
  • Pressure
  • Tongue