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Dental Hygiene Newswire

News and research for Ontario dental hygienists

Oral health status and treatment need in geriatric patients with different degrees of cognitive impairment and dementia: A cross-sectional study

Loss of cognition or dementia is closely related to a poor oral health status according to a study published in the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care.


Background: Health can be defined as more than an absence or lack of disease. It is generally related to personal, physical, social, along with spiritual wellness. However, the importance of good health is comparable with a progressive physical and cognitive limitations due to aging and hence, its clear definition is not possible. Hence, most of the important aims or goals in aging are unrelated to finding a cure but rather toward achieving an optimal function. A healthy aging process that encompasses physical, mental, psychological, and spiritual well-being is always much desired.

Objectives: To assess the oral health status and degree of cognitive impairment with dementia, if present.

Materials and Methods: This was a prospective and cross-sectional analysis comprising of 300 study participants of 150 males and 150 females. Cognitive ability was assessed using the Standardized Mini-Mental State Examination (SMMSE) scoring test. A score value lesser than or equal to 23 is considered as low, whereas a score of 24 and above represents normal cognitive abilities. Subjects with low score were selected for the study. Oral health status was assessed by examining a) total numbers of teeth present; b) presence or absence of denture use; and c) capacity for masticatory or chewing ability (recorded as yes or no). Demographic variables parameters included age, gender, and presence of smoking habit. Clinical parameters or variables were analyzed by employing the independent t-test and Chi-square test. Pearson’s correlation analysis was used to test a correlation between impairment of cognitive capacity, oral health status, masticatory capability, and use of dentures, if present. Two-tailed t-test was used to derive a P value for significance.

Results: The total numbers of teeth present were significantly correlated with a lower SMMSE score (R = + 0.56; P = 0.03) while a significant association was noted between ability for mastication and lower SMMSE score (P = 0.05).

Conclusion: This study concluded loss of cognition or dementia is closely related to a poor oral health status.

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