The study by Boston University’s Elizabeth Kaye examined 577 men in the VA Normative Aging Study (NAS) and Dental Longitudinal Study. Tooth status and type of replacement, if any, were recorded during triennial dental examinations (1969-2001). The chewing efficiency was assessed by root chewing tests. The Spatial Copying Task (SCT) was administered four times between 1995 and 2001. The researchers defined poor cognition as any weighted SCT score <13 (lowest tertile of initial SCT scores among all NAS participants). Cox tooth-level proportional regression, taking into account intra-individual clustering, estimated the hazard of poor cognition, adjusted for education, seizure medication use, and time-dependent values of tooth status (present, absent, fixed bridge/implant, removable replacement), age, smoking of cigarettes and cardiovascular disease.The mean age at first cognitive testing was 68+-7 years. Forty-five percent of men had at least one low SCT score. Twenty-nine percent of participants lost no teeth during follow-up, 34% lost teeth that were not replaced, 13% had missing teeth that were later replaced with fixed dentures, and 25% had missing teeth replaced with removable dentures, the study found. study. New fixed dentures were associated with a lower risk (HR=0.72, 95% CI=0.52-0.99) of poor cognition, while new removable dentures were associated with a higher risk (HR=1.26, 95 %CI=1.01-1.56). The loss of a tooth without replacement was not associated with a significantly higher risk (HR=1.05 95% CI=0.91-1.21) of poor cognition. Chewing ability decreased by 6% in men with new fixed dentures compared to 9%, 10% and 13% in men with no tooth loss, new removable dentures and tooth loss but no replacement.
The study found that replacement of missing teeth with fixed dentures may protect against cognitive decline, and that preservation of chewing ability may play a role in the protective association. (ANI)
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