Edentulism and Trajectories of Cognitive Functioning Among Older Adults: The Role of Dental Care Service Utilization

Sae Hwang Han, Bei Wu, Jeffrey A. Burr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: This study examined the associations between edentulism, dental care service utilization, and cognitive functioning trajectories among older adults. Method: Longitudinal data from the Health and Retirement Study (2006-2014) were employed to examine individuals aged 51 and older who were identified as having normal cognition at baseline (N = 12,405). Cognitive functioning was measured with a modified version of the Telephone Interview for Cognition Status. Edentulism was self-reported as total tooth loss at baseline. Dental care service utilization was measured by self-report of having visited a dentist at least once during the previous 2 years. Results: The results indicated that edentulism and dental care service utilization were independently associated with cognitive decline during the observation period. Findings also showed that dental care service utilization moderated the association between edentulism and cognitive decline. Discussion: The findings suggested that providing access to dental services may promote cognitive health and potentially reduce health care expenditures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)744-752
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Aging and Health
Issue number7-8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020


  • Health and Retirement Study
  • TICS
  • cognitive impairment
  • dental visits
  • oral health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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