Hyposalivation and Poor Dental Health Status Are Potential Correlates of Age-Related Cognitive Decline in Late Midlife in Danish Men

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Introduction: Peripheral correlates of age-associated cognitive decline are important tools in the screening for potentially abnormal courses of cognitive aging. Since salivary gland function is controlled by the autonomic and central nervous system, associations between cognitive changes and salivary gland hypofunction were tested in two groups of middle-aged men in late midlife, who differed substantially with respect to their midlife performance in verbal intelligence when compared with their performance in young adulthood.

Materials and Methods: Participants (n = 193) were recruited from the Danish Metropolit Cohort of men born in 1953. Based on their individual change in performance in two previously administered intelligence tests, they were allocated to one group of positive and one group of negative outliers in midlife cognition scores, indicating no decline versus decline in test performance. All participants underwent a clinical oral examination including assessments of their dental, periodontal, and mucosal conditions. Whole and parotid saliva flow rates were measured, and the number of systemic diseases and medication intake as well as daytime and nocturnal xerostomia were registered.

Results: Participants with decline in cognitive test performance in midlife had significantly lower unstimulated whole saliva flow rates, higher prevalence of hyposalivation and daytime xerostomia and a higher caries experience than participants with no decline in midlife performance. Daytime and nocturnal xerostomia were associated with daily intake of medication and alcohol.

Discussion: Overall, hyposalivation, xerostomia and poor dental status distinguished a group of men displaying relative decline in cognitive performance from a group of men without evidence of cognitive decline. Thus, hyposalivation and poor dental health status may represent potential correlates of age-related cognitive decline in late midlife, provided that other causes can be excluded.
Original languageEnglish
Article number10
JournalFrontiers in Aging Neuroscience
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 2018

    Research areas

  • salivary secretion, xerostomia, DMFs index, oral health, age-related changes in cognition, central autonomic control

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