Background & aims. Several studies report that a low number of teeth is strictly associated with a higher risk of cognitive impairment. Aim of this study is to evaluate the oral condition of a nursing home population, in order to clarify the possible association between tooth loss and cognitive decline.
Methods. 444 patients were selected; clinical information were excerpted from their hospital records. Subjects were visited in their nursing home unit, paying particular attention to number of teeth, prosthesis and soft tissues.
Results. 378 subjects were visited, 277 with formal diagnosis of dementia and 101 with mild or no impairment in cognition. Age was similar in both group, while education level, MMSE and number of teeth were significantly lower among people with dementia. There was an inverse correlation between age and number of remaining teeth, while MMSE did not seem to be associated with tooth loss. School level was positively associated with number of teeth.
Conclusions. There is a significant difference in number of teeth, school level and MMSE between patients with and without dementia. Maybe due to the high prevalence of people with severe cognitive impairment, a significant association between MMSE and number of teeth was not found. The presence of compromise oral conditions is relevant.