Patterns of tooth loss in older adults with and without dementia: A retrospective study based on a Minnesota cohort

Xi Chen, Stephen K. Shuman, James S. Hodges, Laël C. Gatewood, Jia Xu

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27 Scopus citations


Objectives: To study tooth loss patterns in older adults with dementia. Design: Retrospective longitudinal study. Setting: A community-based geriatric dental clinic in Minnesota. Participants: Four hundred ninety-one older adults who presented to the study clinic as new patients during the study period, remained dentate after finishing the initial treatment plan, and returned for care at least once thereafter were retrospectively selected. One hundred nineteen elderly people with International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, codes 290.x, 294.1, or 331.2 or a plain-text diagnosis of dementia, Alzheimer's disease, or chronic brain syndrome in the medical history were considered having dementia. INTERVENTION: All existing dental conditions were treated before enrollment. Dental treatment was continually provided for all participants during follow-up. Measurements: Tooth loss patterns, including time to first tooth loss, number of tooth loss events, and number of teeth lost per patient-year were estimated and compared for participants with and without dementia using Cox, Poisson, and negative-binomial regressions. Results: Participants with dementia arrived with an average of 18 and those without dementia with an average of 20 teeth; 27% of remaining teeth in the group with dementia were decayed or retained roots, higher than in the group without dementia (P<.001). Patterns of tooth loss did not significantly differ between the two groups; 11% of participants in both groups had lost teeth by 12 months of follow-up. By 48 months, 31% of participants without dementia and 37% of participants with dementia had lost at least one tooth (P=.50). On average, 15% of participants in both groups lost at least one tooth each year. Mean numbers of teeth lost in 5 years were 1.21 for participants with dementia and 1.01 for participants without dementia (P=.89). Conclusion: Based on data available in a community-based geriatric dental clinic, dementia was not associated with tooth loss. Although their oral health was poor at arrival, participants with dementia maintained their dentition as well as participants without dementia when dental treatment was provided.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2300-2307
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2010


  • dementia
  • older adults
  • tooth loss

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