Studies continue to indicate that people who keep their teeth and gums healthy with regular brushing appear have a lower risk of developing dementia later in life. The 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 percent more likely to develop dementia than those who brushed daily.
“Not only does the state of your mind predict what kind of oral health habits you practice, it may 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 fueled by gum disease-related bacteria is implicated in a host of conditions including heart disease, stroke, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. And some of the 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, said Paganini-Hill.
One interesting occurrence is there is 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. Apparently, the data supports the latter group having almost twice the occurrence of developing dementia.
This effect for some unknown reason is not seen in women, though. I’m not sure if that’s reason enough for women to ignore the study’s results.
Regardless, if this relationship holds true, with little effort people can reduce their chances of developing dementia by first, practicing good oral health habits to prevent tooth loss and oral diseases. And second, if you do lose your teeth, replace them with implants where possible.
Novy Scheinfeld, DDS, PC
ZoAnna Scheinfeld, MS, DMD
Hanna Orland, DMD
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Sandy Springs, GA 30328
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