Associations of Dental Health With the Progression of Hippocampal Atrophy in Community-Dwelling Individuals: The Ohasama Study

Neurology. 2023 Sep 5;101(10):e1056-e1068. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000207579. Epub 2023 Jul 5.


Background and objectives: Although tooth loss and periodontitis have been considered risk factors of Alzheimer disease, recent longitudinal researches have not found a significant association with hippocampal atrophy. Therefore, this study aimed to clarify a longitudinal association between the number of teeth present (NTP) and hippocampal atrophy dependent on the severity of periodontitis in a late middle-aged and older adult population.

Methods: This study included community-dwelling individuals aged 55 years or older who had no cognitive decline and had undergone brain MRI and oral and systemic data collection twice at 4-year intervals. Hippocampal volumes were obtained from MRIs by automated region-of-interest analysis. The mean periodontal probing depth (PD) was used as a measure of periodontitis. Multiple regression analysis was performed with the annual symmetric percentage change (SPC) of the hippocampal volume as the dependent variable and including an interaction term between NTP and mean PD as the independent variable. The interaction details were examined using the Johnson-Neyman technique and simple slope analysis. The 3-way interaction of NTP, mean PD, and time on hippocampal volume was analyzed using a linear mixed-effects model, and the interaction of NTP and time was examined in subgroups divided by the median mean PD. In all models, dropout bias was adjusted by inverse probability weighting.

Results: Data of 172 participants were analyzed. The qualitative interaction between NTP and the mean PD was significant for the annual SPC in the left hippocampus. The regression coefficient of the NTP on the annual SPC in the left hippocampus was positive (B = 0.038, p = 0.026) at the low-level mean PD (mean -1 SD) and negative (B = -0.054, p = 0.001) at the high-level mean PD (mean +1 SD). Similar results were obtained in the linear mixed-effects model; the interaction of NTP and time was significant in the higher mean PD group.

Discussion: In a late middle-aged and older cohort, fewer teeth were associated with a faster rate of left hippocampal atrophy in patients with mild periodontitis, whereas having more teeth was associated with a faster rate of atrophy in those with severe periodontitis. The importance of keeping teeth healthy is suggested.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alzheimer Disease* / pathology
  • Atrophy / pathology
  • Hippocampus / diagnostic imaging
  • Hippocampus / pathology
  • Humans
  • Independent Living
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Middle Aged
  • Periodontitis* / complications
  • Periodontitis* / diagnostic imaging
  • Periodontitis* / epidemiology