A new study from Japan has found that adults over the age of 60 who lose a lot of teeth are more likely to develop dementia than those who lose less. Researchers followed 1,566 Japanese adults who were dementia-free at the onset of the study for five years. The beginning of the study had participants divided into four categories based on how many of their own teeth they still had.
Over the course of the five years, 11.5 percent of participants developed some form of dementia, whether it was Alzheimer’s or vascular dementia. The risk of developing dementia was 62 percent higher for participants who had between ten and 19 of their original teeth than it was for those who had 20 or more. This risk increased to 82 percent in volunteers who had only one to nine of their original teeth.
Researchers theorized that the connection between tooth loss and an increased risk of dementia may be due to poor healthcare habits, as well as the possibility that tooth decay and gum disease could trigger inflammation that increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. The study’s authors explained, “The findings emphasize the clinical importance of promoting and supporting opportunities for dental care and treatment, especially in terms of maintenance of teeth from an early age for reducing the risk of dementia in later life.”