Dental Health Linked to Dementia Risk
Do you floss regularly? Brush your teeth after every meal? If you do, you might be preventing more than just cavities and gum disease.
A study found that people who keep their teeth and gums healthy with regular brushing may have a lower risk of developing dementia later in life.
What Research Says
Researchers at University of California that followed nearly 5,500 elderly people over an 18-year-period found that 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.
Inflammation stoked by gum disease-related bacteria is implicated in a host of conditions including heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
Some studies have also 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. It’s thought that gum disease bacteria might get into the brain, causing inflammation and brain damage.
All were free of dementia at the outset, when they answered questions about their dental health habits, the condition of their teeth and whether they wore dentures. When the researchers followed up 18 years later, they used interviews, medical records and in some cases death certificates to determine that 1,145 of the original group had been diagnosed with dementia.
Of 78 women who said they brushed their teeth less than once a day in 1992, 21 had dementia by 2010, or about one case per 3.7 women.
In comparison, among those who brushed at least once a day, closer to one in every 4.5 women developed dementia which translates to a 65-percent greater chance of dementia among those who brushed less than daily.
Men vs. Women
Among the men, the effect was less pronounced with about one in six irregular brushers developing the disease, making them 22 percent more likely to have dementia than those who brushed daily. Statistically, however, the effect was so small it could have been due to chance, the researchers said.
Can Other Factors Contribute?
Head injury and malnutrition are also important causes of tooth loss in adults, and either of those might increase the dementia risk, said Amber Watts, who studies dementia at the University of Kansas and wasn’t part of the study.
It’s probably a bit of a stretch to say that by brushing your teeth you will not develop Alzheimer’s Disease, but certainly keeping a good dental hygiene regimen is never a bad idea.
We Can Help
Did you know that despite the natural aging process, you have a choice in how fast your brain ages? Your behavior and habits can speed up or slow down the rate at which your brain declines with age. Being mentally and physically active, eating nutritious foods and avoiding unhealthy habits can help you maintain optimal brain health and ward off dementia.
The best way to sharpen recall, reduce brain atrophy, and eliminate all the risk factors that steal the mind is with a BRIGHT MINDS approach, which addresses memory problems, aging and Alzheimer’s disease.
To learn more about Amen Clinics Memory Program based on Dr. Amen’s BRIGHT MINDS approach, check it out HERE, or call 888-288-9834.