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Older adults with few teeth may have lower cognitive function

By Dental Tribune International
April 13, 2014

CHARLOTTE, N.C., USA: The findings of a new study, which was recently presented at the Annual Meeting and Exhibition of the American Association of Dental Research (AADR), suggest that the decline of cognitive function in octogenarians is related to tactile and taste perceptions. The researchers found that participants with more natural teeth performed better in oral perception tests.

The study involved 956 80-year-olds without dementia who were living independently. In order to assess whether cognitive function was associated with oral perception, the participants were asked to identify the shape of six different test objects with their tongue and palate. In addition, taste perception was evaluated through a gustatory test using sweet, sour, salty and bitter water solutions.

Overall, the researchers found that oral perception test scores were positively associated with number of teeth, as older adults with more teeth performed significantly better in identifying the objects. Moreover, male participants recognized tastes significantly better than female participants in the study did.

The study, titled "Cognitive Function and Oral Perception in Independently-Living Octogenarians," was presented by researchers from Osaka University in Japan on March 20 at the AADR meeting. It adds new evidence to the findings of a study published in the December 2013 issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association. In that study, scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that edentulous participants had lower scores in cognitive tests compared with dentate participants.

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