Background: Although statistical associations between tooth loss and cognitive decline have been reported, there are few previous studies on denture wearing. Additionally, it remains unclear whether nutritional status mediates this association. Objective: Our purpose was to test for the hypothesis that the association between the number of teeth and denture wearing with cognitive function is mediated by nutritional status in residents of nursing homes. Materials and Methods: We enrolled 162 participants who required long-term care (mean age: 87.7 ± 7.5 years, 26 men and 136 women) and were admitted to eight nursing homes in Fukuoka city, from September 2013 to March 2014. A trained dentist conducted dental and swallowing examinations, and the care-staff assessed nutritional status, comorbid conditions and cognitive function using the Clinical Dementia Rating (CDR). Results: Poisson regression analysis showed that 0-19 teeth without dentures were associated with severe cognitive impairment (CDR 3) (prevalence ratio = 2.00; 95% confidence interval: 1.13-3.55) after adjustment for sex, age, suspected swallowing dysfunction and comorbid conditions. Mediation analysis confirmed that the nutritional status as a mediator of this association (the percentage mediated effect through nutritional status was 23.1%). Conclusion: There is an association between dental status and cognitive impairment in elder individuals, and dentures and poor nutrition are involved in this association. However, due to the cross-sectional design of this study, there is a possibility that this association is bidirectional.
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