As the era of aging comes, cognitive impairment (CI) is increasing. The impact of rehabilitation of lost tooth on CI remains unclear. This study aimed to investigate whether non-rehabilitated lost teeth (NRLT) is associated with CI among Korean elders. A total of 280 elders comprising of 140 cases and 140 age-sex-matched controls were included in this cross-sectional study. CI was assessed using the Mini-Mental Status Examination (MMSE). NRLT was evaluated using panoramic radiograph and oral examination. NRLT was categorized into low (≤4) and high (≥5). Age, sex, education, drinking, smoking, exercise, obesity, hypertension, subclinical atherosclerosis, glucose, cholesterol, depression, and denture-wearing were considered as confounders. Conditional multivariate logistic regression analysis was applied to assess the adjusted association. NRLT was associated with increased CI after controlling for confounders (odds ratio [OR] = 1.06, 95% confidence interval [95% CFI]: 1.00-1.13). However, lost teeth were not associated with CI. Those with high NRLT (≥5) compared to those with low NRLT (≤4) was more likely to have CI by 2.7 times (OR = 2.74, 95% CFI = 1.28-5.86). Our data showed that NRLT was independently associated with CI. Hence, rehabilitation of the lost teeth could be important for the maintenance of cognitive function. © 2018 John Wiley & Sons A/S. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. All rights reserved.