Purpose: Dementia is a growing health problem for countries with aging populations, but few effective dementia treatments are available. However, there is increasing interest in oral health as a modifiable risk factor in interventions to prevent cognitive decline. This study aimed to investigate the impact of oral health on the decline of cognitive function over 3 years among Japanese people aged 70 and 80 years. Methods: Participants (n = 860) were community-dwelling older adults who participated in baseline and follow-up surveys (at baseline: 69–71 years n = 423; 79–81 years, n = 437). Registered dentists examined the number of teeth, number of functional teeth, number of periodontal teeth, and occlusal force. The Japanese version of the Montreal Cognitive Assessment was used to evaluate cognitive function. We also evaluated socioeconomic factors, medical history, drinking and smoking habits, physical performance, genetic factors, and C-reactive protein concentration in blood. A generalized estimating equation (GEE) was used to examine how oral health at baseline influenced cognitive decline over 3 years. Results: The GEE showed that the number of teeth (non-standardized coefficient: B = 0.031, p = 0.022) and occlusal force (B = 0.103, p = 0.004) at baseline were associated with cognitive function at follow-up, even after adjusting for other risk factors. Furthermore, maintaining more teeth (B = 0.009, p = 0.004) and a stronger occlusal force (B = 0.020, p = 0.040) buffered cognitive decline. Conclusions: Number of teeth and occlusal force predict cognitive decline over 3 subsequent years in Japanese older adults aged 70 and 80 years.
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