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J Am Geriatr Soc. 2012 Aug;60(8):1556-63. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2012.04064.x. Epub 2012 Aug 2.

Dentition, dental health habits, and dementia: the Leisure World Cohort Study.

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Department of Preventive Medicine, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, USA.



To explore the association between dentition and dental health behaviors and incident dementia.


Longitudinal cohort.


Leisure World, Laguna Hills, CA; a retirement community.


Five thousand four hundred sixty-eight older (median age 81) adults followed from 1992 to 2010.


Questions regarding dental health focused on number of natural teeth, dentures worn, number of visits to a dentist, and oral health habits. Dementia status was determined from in-person evaluations, follow-up questionnaires, hospital data, and death certificates. Estimates of dementia risk were calculated using Cox regression analysis in men and women separately.


Men with inadequate natural masticatory function who did not wear dentures had a 91% greater risk of dementia than those with adequate natural masticatory function (≥ 10 upper teeth and ≥ 6 lower teeth). This risk was also greater in women but not significantly so. Dentate individuals who reported not brushing their teeth daily had a 22% to 65% greater risk of dementia than those who brushed three times daily.


In addition to helping maintain natural, healthy, functional teeth, oral health behaviors are associated with lower risk of dementia in older adults.

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