Effects of the Co-occurrence of Diabetes Mellitus and Tooth Loss on Cognitive Function

Huabin Luo, Chenxin Tan, Samrachana Adhikari, Brenda L. Plassman, Angela R. Kamer, Frank A. Sloan, Mark D. Schwartz, Xiang Qi, Bei Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Both diabetes mellitus (DM) and poor oral health are common chronic conditions and risk factors of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia among older adults. This study assessed the effects of DM and complete tooth loss (TL) on cognitive function, accounting for their interactions. Methods: Longitudinal data were obtained from the 2006, 2012, and 2018 waves of the Health and Retirement Study. This cohort study included 7,805 respondents aged 65 years or older with 18,331 person-year observations. DM and complete TL were self-reported. Cognitive function was measured by the Telephone Interview for Cognitive Status. Random-effect regressions were used to test the associations, overall and stratified by sex. Results: Compared with older adults without neither DM nor complete TL, those with both conditions (b =-1.35, 95% confidence interval [CI]:-1.68,-1.02), with complete TL alone (b =-0.67, 95% CI:-0.88,-0.45), or with DM alone (b =-0.40, 95% CI:-0.59,-0.22), had lower cognitive scores. The impact of having both conditions was significantly greater than that of having DM alone (p < .001) or complete TL alone (p = 0.001). Sex-stratified analyses showed the effects were similar in males and females, except having DM alone was not significant in males. Conclusion: The co-occurrence of DM and complete TL poses an additive risk for cognition. Healthcare and family-care providers should pay attention to the cognitive health of patients with both DM and complete TL. Continued efforts are needed to improve older adults’ access to dental care, especially for individuals with DM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1023-1031
Number of pages9
JournalCurrent Alzheimer Research
Issue number13
StatePublished - Nov 2021


  • Cognitive function
  • Dementia
  • Diabetes
  • Effects of co-occurrence
  • Population
  • Tooth loss
  • Diabetes Mellitus/epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Cognition Disorders/etiology
  • Male
  • Cognition
  • Tooth Loss/complications
  • Female
  • Aged
  • Cohort Studies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology


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