To quantify the dose-response associations between tooth loss and risk of cognitive impairment and dementia.
Longitudinal studies that examined the association between tooth loss and cognitive function were systematically searched on 6 databases through March 1, 2020. The study adhered to Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) reporting guidelines. Risk estimates were pooled using random-effects models. The dose-response associations were assessed using generalized least squares spline models.
Setting and Participants
Adults from community, institution, outpatient or in-hospital were included in the meta-analysis.
Cognitive impairment and dementia were defined by neuropsychological tests, diagnostic criteria, or medical records. Tooth loss was self-reported or assessed by clinical examinations.
Fourteen studies were entered into the meta-analysis, including 34,074 participants and 4689 cases with diminished cognitive function. Participants with more tooth loss had a 1.48 times higher risk of developing cognitive impairment [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.18–1.87] and 1.28 times higher risk of being diagnosed with dementia (95% CI 1.09–1.49); however, the association was nonsignificant for participants using dentures (relative risk = 1.10, 95% CI 0.90–1.11). Eight studies were included in the dose-response analysis, and data supported the use of linear models. Each additional tooth loss was associated with a 0.014 increased relative risk of cognitive impairment and 0.011 elevated relative risks of dementia. Edentulous participants faced a 1.54 times higher risk of cognitive impairment and a 1.40 times higher risk of being diagnosed with dementia.
Conclusions and Implications
Moderate-quality evidence suggested tooth loss was independently associated with cognitive impairment and dementia; risk of diminished cognitive function increased with incremental numbers of teeth lost. Furthermore, timely prosthodontic treatment with dentures may reduce the progression of cognitive decline related to tooth loss