Differences in Brain Volume by Tooth Loss and Cognitive Function in Older Japanese Adults

Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2022 Dec;30(12):1271-1279. doi: 10.1016/j.jagp.2022.06.005. Epub 2022 Jun 17.


Background: We investigated the association between tooth loss and structural brain volume and its mediating effect on the association between tooth loss and cognitive function in older Japanese.

Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted by using the data of 494 randomly sampled community-dwelling individuals aged 65-84 years living in Tokamachi City, Japan. Total brain volume (TBV), gray matter volume (GMV), white matter volume (WMV), and hippocampal volume (HV) were measured with magnetic resonance imaging. The association of self-reported number of teeth (≥20, 1-19, and 0) with cognitive function assessed with the Japanese version of the Quick Mild Cognitive Impairment screen and structural brain volume was examined. Causal mediation analysis was performed to evaluate the mediating effect of structural brain volume. Age, sex, socioeconomic status, health behavior, comorbid conditions, and total intracranial volume were adjusted.

Results: Respondents with no teeth showed lower cognitive function (coefficient = -4.01; 95% confidence interval [CI]: -7.19, -0.82), lower TBV (coefficient = -10.34; 95% CI: -22.84, 2.17), and lower GMV (coefficient = -6.92; 95% CI: -14.84, 0.99) than those with ≥20 teeth (P for trends were 0.003, 0.035, and 0.047, respectively). The number of teeth was not significantly associated with WMV or HV. GMV showed a significant mediating effect on the association between the number of teeth and cognitive function (coefficient = -0.38; 95% CI: -1.14, -0.002, corresponding to 9.0% of the total effect), whereas TBV did not.

Conclusions: GMV was suggested to mediate the relationship between tooth loss and lower cognitive function.

Keywords: Tooth loss; cognitive function; magnetic resonance imaging; structural brain volume.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / pathology
  • Cognition
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Gray Matter / diagnostic imaging
  • Gray Matter / pathology
  • Humans
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Tooth Loss* / complications
  • Tooth Loss* / epidemiology
  • Tooth Loss* / pathology