Objectives: To assess whether systemic inflammation and nutritional status contribute to a relationship between tooth loss and mortality in community-dwelling older Japanese individuals using mediation analyses. Materials and methods: This longitudinal study targeted community-dwelling older Japanese individuals (N = 891). The exposure variable was the number of teeth (edentulous, 1–9, 10–19, ≥ 20), while the outcome was all-cause mortality from 2003 to 2016. Nutritional status and systemic inflammation were evaluated as mediators and based on serum albumin and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein levels, respectively. Covariates included age, sex, smoking, alcohol consumption, medical history, educational level, depressive symptoms, cognitive impairment, and physical function. The Cox proportional hazards model was applied to calculate hazard ratios (HRs) for the association between tooth loss and mortality and the contributions of systemic inflammation and nutritional status to this association. Results: Edentulous participants (HR, 1.84; 95 % confidence interval [CI], 1.30–2.59) and those with 1–9 teeth (HR, 1.75; 95% CI, 1.28–2.40) groups exhibited a significantly higher risk of mortality than did those with ≥ 20 teeth. Mediation analyses showed that nutritional status contributed to the association between tooth loss and mortality in participants with 1–9 teeth, whereas systemic inflammation played no role in this association. Conclusions: Nutritional status may contribute to the association between tooth loss and mortality in community-dwelling older Japanese individuals with fewer remaining teeth. Clinical relevance: The data from this prospective cohort study help in elucidating parts of the biological mechanism underlying tooth loss and all-cause mortality in older individuals.
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