Do You Have Healthy Teeth? A Poor Oral Health Could Increase Your Risk Of Dementia
Our teeth play an important role in our lives, whether we are chewing, talking, giving our faces shape, or smiling. However, recent research in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society suggests that the health of our teeth may indicate our chances of developing dementia.
According to Finnish researchers, gum disease or poor periodontal health (inflammation of the tooth’s supporting structures/surrounding tissues) as well as tooth loss (due to untreated gum disease) increase the risk for both milder cognitive decline and dementia.
Periodontal health can be modified, which is a key point. In Seasons, Sam Asher, MPH, lead researcher at the Institute of Dentistry at the University of Eastern Finland, told us that it can be addressed through self-care measures and regular use of basic oral health services. According to the researchers, this may reduce dementia risks to some extent, but the exact amount remains unclear.
Based on a combination of data from 47 previous published studies and a review of the data, Asher and his colleagues found a 21% higher risk of dementia and a 23% higher risk of mild cognitive decline associated with tooth loss, deep pockets around teeth, or bone loss in the tooth socket.
In addition, people who already have some cognitive impairment that affects their ability to maintain healthy gums are especially in need of sustained oral health care over time and adequate oral health support.
While the study did have some limitations, he noted that many studies had methodological deficiencies and there was a low overall quality of available evidence.
It has been suggested that there are limitations to the conclusions that can be drawn from current research. However, Asher believes that preventing and treating periodontal conditions is important for older adults who are at an increased risk for dementia.
I believe it is paramount to maintain good oral health by practicing adequate oral hygiene measures, which may positively affect health and well-being in general as a result of improving oral health.” he said.
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The Link Between Poor Oral Hygiene And Dementia Risk
In order to understand the relationship between oral health and dementia, Tim Donley, DDS, MSD, an expert in treating gum disease and dental implants, said more research is needed.
It is possible, however, that these increased risks are caused by plaque and bacteria that can accumulate along gums and between teeth if a proper oral care regimen is not followed, he told Seasons. Inflammation of the gumline, known as gingivitis and periodontitis, may also result from bacteria moving between and around teeth.
In the long run, gum disease can lead to tooth loss if left untreated. Leaving the disease untreated can lead to further damage. In addition to affecting your overall health, periodontal disease and gingivitis may also lead to cognitive impairment, as found in this study.
There is ongoing research looking into the exact mechanisms by which certain bacteria living in the mouth can cause dementia and reduce cognitive function in the brain. However, the exact mechanisms by which these bacteria can cause dementia and diminished cognitive function remain unclear.
Also, periodontal inflammation has been linked to systemic inflammation, which may contribute to neuroinflammation, a risk factor for dementia, he said. Also, tooth loss may be associated with impaired cognition because nutritional deficits, chemical imbalances, or even changes to the brain can result from issues with chewing or a weaker biting force.
Additionally, Asher noted that impaired periodontal health is linked to metabolic and cardiovascular diseases, as well as poor health habits.
He also mentioned that shared risk factors could contribute to poor periodontal health’s adverse impact on cognition.
How To Maintain Good Oral Health In Older Adults
It is always important to have and maintain good oral health, health experts say, regardless of whether poor oral health or gum problems cause dementia.
Using proper brushing techniques, diet, and regular visits to the dentist can help caregivers maintain their loved ones’ oral health, according to Timothy Quirt, DDS, MBA, senior vice president of clinical operations at Heartland Dental. All of these factors can affect a patient’s physical, psychological and social health directly.
In order to prevent dental disease, he said, you should brush, floss and have regular dental appointments. “Treating dental diseases early helps prevent serious consequences, including cognitive symptoms such as dementia,” he said.
Oral Health Is Also Possible By Following These Steps:
- Brush your teeth twice daily for about two minutes as part of your self-care oral hygiene routine.
- Keep your gums healthy by flossing daily to remove plaque and food particles.
- Visiting the dentist regularly for routine cleanings, checkups, and gum disease monitoring is crucial.
You can reduce your risk of chronic diseases by losing weight, improving your nutritional intake, monitoring your blood pressure, avoiding tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption, and getting enough sleep and hydration, Donley said. Use the tools that will give you the best chance of maintaining optimal oral health and add it to the list.
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