Tooth loss, dementia and neuropathology in the Nun Study

Pamela Sparks Stein, Mark Desrosiers, Sara Jean Donegan, Juan F. Yepes, Richard J. Kryscio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

318 Scopus citations


Background. Numerous studies have linked dementia to the subsequent deterioration of oral health. Few investigators, however, have examined oral disease as a potential risk factor in the development of dementia. The authors conducted a study to investigate a potential association between a history of oral disease and the development of dementia. Methods. Longitudinal dental records supplemented data collected from 10 annual cognitive assessments of 144 Milwaukee participants in the Nun Study, a longitudinal study of aging and Alzheimer disease, who were 75 to 98 years old. Neuropathologic findings at autopsy were available for 118 participants who died. Results. A low number of teeth increased the risk of higher prevalence and incidence of dementia. Conclusion. Participants with the fewest teeth had the highest risk of prevalence and incidence of dementia. Clinical Implications. Edentulism or very few (one to nine) teeth may be predictors of dementia late in life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1314-1322
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Dental Association
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2007

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was funded by grants R01AG09862, K04AG00553 and 1P30AG028383 from the U.S. National Institute on Aging, Bethesda, Md., and grants from the Abercrombie Foundation, Versailles, Ky., and The Robert J. Jr. and Helen C. Kleberg Foundation, San Antonio. Additional funding was provided by grant K30HL04163 and grant P20 RR020145 from the National Center for Research Resources, Bethesda, Md., a component of the National Institutes of Health.


  • Alzheimer disease
  • Epidemiology
  • Periodontal disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Dentistry


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