Is Good Oral Health is Linked to Reduced Risk of Dementia?

woman holding toothbrush Researchers who followed close to 5,500 elderly people over an 18-year period, found those who reported brushing their teeth less than once a day were up to 65% more likely to develop dementia than those who brushed daily.

People who keep their teeth and gums healthy with regular brushing may have a lower risk of developing dementia later in life, according to a new study, says Dr. Jay M. Marks.

“Not only does the state of your mind predict what kind of oral health habits you practice, but it may also be that your oral health habits influence whether or not you get dementia,” said Annlia Paganini-Hill, who led the study at the University of California.

Inflammation caused by gum disease-related bacteria is implicated in a host of conditions including heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

And some studies have found that people with Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, have more gum disease-related bacteria in their brains than a person without Alzheimer’s, reports Danbury, CT. Dentist Jay M. Marks, DMD

It’s thought that gum disease bacteria might get into the brain causing inflammation and brain damage.

There was a significant difference seen between men who had all, or at least most, of their teeth, or who wore dentures, and those who didn’t — the latter group were almost twice as likely to develop dementia.

That effect was not seen in women, though. Yet despite the limitations, Watts said the study is an important step toward understanding how behavior might be linked to dementia.

Dr. Marks says that we can’t conclude or guarantee that if you take proper care of your teeth and gums, and visit your dentist regularly, that you will not get dementia, but the practice of good oral hygiene, and preventing tooth loss (or wearing dentures if you do loose your teeth), may play some role here.

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