Oral health and cognitive function in old age

Project description

Project Summary

Many studies have investigated the associations between oral health, particularly periodontal diseases, and comorbidities. Evidence accumulated in the past 20-30 years from biological research and population studies has shown that oral disease is related to cognitive impairment and the development of dementia in old age. However, due to the variations in study designs, population selection, and the statistical analyses used in the plethora of reported studies, results of different studies have been contradictory. To date, there is a lack of consensus among experts on the nature of these associations, and difficulties in understanding the causative link between oral health and cognitive function.

Aims and Objectives

The project aim is to test the hypothesis that oral health has a causal impact on cognitive function, and whether it moderates the influence of risk factors (e.g. age, education, genetics, lifestyle, cardiovascular disease) on cognitive impairment in older age.

The research will involve analysis of the several large-scale open-access USA and UK databases: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA, 2002-2016), and potentially UK Biobank (2006-2016, N > 500,000), in which information of participants’ demographic characteristics, medical records (including diseases and biomarkers), oral health status (number of teeth, periodontitis, denture usage, dental attendance) and cognitive function (memory, information processing speed, attention) is available. This research will provide important new insights into the influence of oral health on cognitive function, and inform public health interventions to maintain or improve oral health in older adults. 

This project will lead to high quality academic and socioeconomic impact. The research will generate three to four high quality peer-reviewed journal articles. Results will be presented at leading international conferences in dentistry, dementia, and statistics, targeting a wide audience including people living with dementia, behavioural scientists, dental professionals, and clinicians.

Entry requirements

Please contact our staff for further details about entry requirements.

How to apply (email)


How to apply (phone)

+44 (0)113 343 7497