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Strategies to Prevent Cognitive Decline in Older Adults with Diabetes and Tooth Loss



Diabetes is known to be a risk factor for dementia and cognitive decline. Brain changes may also be influenced by the hallmarks of diabetes, including high blood sugar, insulin resistance, inflammation, and heart disease. A single additional factor contributes to dementia, in addition to diabetes.

Diabetes and tooth loss may both have an impact on cognitive function and accelerate cognitive decline in older adults, according to a new study that was published in a special issue of the Journal of Dental Research focusing on aging and oral health.

These discoveries highlight the significance of dental care and diabetes management for older adults in reducing in lessening the staggering personal and societal expenses of Alzheimer’s illness and other related dementias.

Dementia accelerates when diabetes and tooth loss combine

A developing group of exploration has uncovered a comparable association among unfortunate oral health, especially gum disease and tooth loss, and mental debilitation and dementia. Inflammation plays a key role in gum disease, just like it does in diabetes, and these inflammatory processes may also contribute to cognitive decline.

Additionally, chewing can be difficult with painful gums and missing teeth, necessitating dietary adjustments that can lead to nutritional deficiencies. Another risk factor for cognitive impairment and dementia is nutritional deficiency, which can also be exacerbated by impaired glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity in diabetes.

Poor oral health, diabetes, and cognitive decline are undeniably associated, and we are starting to comprehend how they might impact and intensify each other. Although diabetes and missing teeth are both risk factors for dementia, little research has looked at how these conditions affect cognitive decline.

To address this gap, researchers looked to the Health and Retirement Study at the University of Michigan. They looked at 12 years’ worth of data from the longitudinal study, from 2006 to 2018, to see how people’s cognitive abilities changed over time.

In their analysis, the researchers looked at 9,948 older people who were divided into three age groups: 65 to 74, 75 to 84, and 85 and older. It included questions about tooth loss, diabetes, and other health and demographic factors, as well as assessments of memory and cognitive function every two years.

In this analysis, the scientists were especially interested in older adults who had lost the entirety of their teeth. They found that older adults aged 65 to 84 with both diabetes and complete tooth loss had more regrettable mental capability than their partners without one or the other condition.

Those aged 65 to 74 with diabetes alone experienced an accelerated cognitive decline over time, as did those without teeth aged 65 to 84. However, those aged 65 to 74 with diabetes and complete tooth loss experienced the fastest rate of cognitive decline.

Maintaining good oral health may ward off cognitive decline.

For adults 85 and older, the relationship between diabetes, tooth loss, and cognitive decline was inconclusive. This could be because this age group has greater overall cognitive impairment, may be healthier, or may have more experience managing diabetes.

Researchers emphasize the importance of regular dental visits, adhering to diabetes treatment and self-care to control blood sugar levels and cognitive screenings in primary care settings for older adults with poor oral health and diabetes.

Access to dental consideration for older adults particularly those with diabetes is basic, and medical services suppliers ought to educate their patients about the association between oral health and cognition.


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