02 Dec 2022
30 Nov 2022
Tooth loss among older people is highly prevalent worldwide. Reduced number of teeth may be associated with impaired chewing ability and cognitive impairment. This study aimed to assess the association between low number of remaining teeth and cognitive function in a group of elderly in the community. A cross-sectional study was carried out on 152 older adults aged 60 years and above from four elderly activity centres in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Clinical oral examination was conducted to determine the oral health conditions of respondents, which include number of remaining teeth, presence of denture and history of dental caries. The validated Malay version of Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) was used to assess their cognitive function. Low cognitive status was defined as having MMSE score of less than 24. The mean number of teeth present was 12.0 ± 9.6, with 23.7% had total tooth loss (edentate). Lower MMSE score (<24) was found in 34.9% of the respondents. A significantly higher percentage of respondents with reduced number of teeth and chewing difficulty had lower MMSE score. Significant positive correlation was also found between number of remaining teeth and MMSE score (r=0.30; p<0.01). Chewing difficulty and reduced number of teeth were significantly associated with cognitive decline among the elderly. Maintenance of optimum number of teeth can be an important factor for cognitive function. Longitudinal studies are needed to further explore the relationship.