Background: Oral health has been found to be associated with cognitive function in basic research and epidemiology studies. Most of these studies had no comprehensive clinical diagnosis on cognitive function. This study firstly reported the association between tooth loss and cognitive function among Chinese older population. Methods: The study included 3,063 community dwelling older adults aged 60 or above from the Shanghai Aging Study. Number of teeth missing was obtained from self-reporting questionnaire and confirmed by trained interviewers. Participants were diagnosed as "dementia", "mild cognitive impairment (MCI)", or "cognitive normal" by neurologists using DSM-IV and Petersen criteria. Multivariate logistic regression model was applied to examine the association between number of teeth missing and cognitive function. Results: The study participants had an average of 10.2 teeth lost. Individuals with dementia lost 18.7 teeth on average, much higher than those with MCI (11.8) and cognitive normal (9.3) (p<0.001). After adjusted for sex, age, education year, living alone, body mass index, cigarette smoking, alcohol drinking, anxiety, depression, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and APOE-ε4, tooth loss of >16 were significantly associated with dementia with an OR of 1.56 (95%CI 1.12-2.18). Conclusion: Having over 16 missing teeth was associated with severe cognitive impairment among Chinese older adults. Poor oral health might be considered as a related factor of neurodegenerative symptom among older Chinese population.
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