Amalgam fillings and cognitive abilities in a representative sample of the elderly population

The ongoing controversial discussion about a possible negative effect of amalgam fillings on the cognitive abilities and the pathogenesis dementia was the objective of the present study. A total of 300 patients aged from 70 to 103 years were selected from the multidisciplinary 'Berlin Aging Study' (Base). The sample was heterogeneous concerning lifestyle, education and social prestige. According to their dental state subjects were allocated into three groups: edentate 226520 years (I) and residual teeth without (II) or with (III) amalgam restorations. All groups were matched for age and gender. Dental examinations and various psychiatric as well as psychological assessments were carried out by professionals within the protocol of the BASE. Tests were chosen to reveal the presence and degree of dementia and assess cognitive abilities such as 'perceptual speed', 'reasoning', 'memory', 'fluency' and 'knowledge'. The present findings negate a correlation between the dental state and the pathogenesis of dementia and the physiological age-related decline in cognitive abilities. Thus the presence of amalgam fillings did neither correlate to a demented mental condition nor an impaired cognitive performance.