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Eur J Oral Sci. 2013 Aug;121(4):333-40. doi: 10.1111/eos.12060. Epub 2013 May 28.

Relationship between natural teeth and memory in a healthy elderly population.

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Department of Psychology, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden.


The relationship between mastication and cognitive function remains unclear, but both animal and experimental human studies suggest a possible causal relationship. In the present study it was hypothesized that natural teeth are of importance for hippocampus-based cognitive processes, such as episodic long-term memory. A population-based sample of 273 participants (55-80 yr of age; 145 women) was investigated in a cross-sectional study. The participants underwent health assessment, completed a battery of cognitive tests, and took part in an extensive clinical oral examination. The number of natural teeth contributed uniquely and significantly to explaining variance (3-4%) in performance on measures of episodic memory and semantic memory over and above individual differences in age, years of education, gender, occupation, living conditions, and medical history. The number of natural teeth did not have an influence on the performance of measures of working memory, visuospatial ability, or processing speed. Within the limitations of the current study, a small, but significant, relationship between episodic memory and number of natural teeth is evident.


cognition; hippocampus; human memory; oral health; tooth loss

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