Objective: Poor oral health is common in dementia, but findings of epidemiological studies have been inconsistent. This meta-analysis examined oral health in patients with dementia diagnosed according to standardized diagnostic criteria.
Methods: Six international databases (PubMed, EMBASE, PsycINFO, Medline, Cochrane Library, and Web of Science) were searched from their commencement date until 8 November 2018. Oral health was measured by the Remaining Teeth (RT) and Decayed, Missing, and Filled Teeth (DMFT) Index. The mean differences (MD) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) of DMFT Index total and component scores were calculated using a random-effect model.
Results: Twenty-four studies were included for analyses. The pooled DMFT Index was 23.48 (95% CI: 22.34, 24.62), while the pooled score for each component was 2.38 (95% CI: 1.56, 3.20) in decayed teeth (DT), 18.39 (95% CI: 15.92, 20.87) in missing teeth (MT), 2.29 (95% CI: 0.62, 3.95) in filled teeth (FT), and 11.59 (95% CI: 9.14, 14.05) in RT. Compared to controls, people with dementia had significantly a higher DMFT Index total score (MD = 3.80, 95% CI: 2.21, 5.39, p < 0.00,001), and significantly lower number of RT (MD = −3.15, 95% CI: −4.23, −2.06, p < 0.00,001). Subgroup analyses revealed that higher DMFT Index score was significantly associated with year of survey (>2010), study design (case-control study), percentage of females (≤54.3), and the Mini Mental State Examination score (≤18.2). Higher MT score was significantly associated with study design (cross-sectional study), and lower FT score was significantly associated with year of survey (>2010).
Conclusions: Oral health was significantly poorer in people with dementia compared with controls. Regular screening and effective treatment should be implemented for this population.