What to Read Next

Dental health and dementia

Cynthia Ross Cravit
September 12, 2012

Brush every day to keep dementia at bay? Yet another study shows a big benefit for keeping teeth and gums healthy.

Good oral hygiene has been linked to a myriad of health benefits including a lower risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes and even certain kinds of cancer. And now researchers have found a connection between poor dental health and an increased risk for dementia.

For the study, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, researchers from the University of California followed 5,500 older adults over a period of 18 years (from 1992 to 2010). When the study began, participants ranged in age from 52 to 105, with an average age of 81. All were dementia-free at the onset of the study when they answered questions about their oral health hygiene and the condition of their teeth.

During the follow-up nearly two decades later, researchers used interviews, hospital data, medical records — and in some cases death certificates — to determine how many participants had developed dementia.

The findings? Researchers reported that people who reported brushing their teeth less than once a day were a whopping 65 per cent more likely to develop dementia than those who brushed on a daily basis. For denture users, people who regularly wore their dentures were also less likely to have dementia.

“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,” Annlia Paganini-Hill, who led the study, told Reuters Health.

Previous studies have shown that people who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease have more gum disease-related bacteria in their brains than a person without Alzheimer’s, according to Paganini-Hill. It’s this bacteria that is thought to cause inflammation — and damage — to the brain.

Study limitations
While the findings certainly suggest an association between poor dental health and increased dementia risk, they don’t prove that unhealthy oral hygiene actually causes dementia. As with many studies, there’s an element of the chicken and egg question. For instance, is carelessness or neglect of one’s dental hygiene (in terms of brushing and flossing) in itself an early sign of dementia?

Another limitation is that the study looked at brushing habits and tooth count as an indication of oral health, but researchers didn’t actually conduct dental exams to determine if the participants had gum disease or not.

Yet, despite these limitations, experts say the findings are worthy of more research and could be an important step toward understanding how lifestyle habits might be associated with dementia.

“It’s nice if this relationship holds true as there’s something people can do (to reduce their chances of developing dementia),” said Paganini-Hill. “First, practice good oral health habits to prevent tooth loss and oral diseases. And second, if you do lose your teeth, wear dentures.”

Sources: Journal of the American Geriatrics Society abstract; Reuters Health

Photo ©iStockphoto.com/ Abel Mitja Varela

    What your looks say about your health
    Flossing could save your life
    Soothing sensitive teeth
    Can your toothbrush chip your teeth?
    10 symptoms you shouldn’t ignore

Copyright 2012 All Rights Reserved - ZoomerMedia Limited.

Do NOT pay your insurance until you try this.

If you drive less than 55 miles/day OR have no DUI's you can get auto insurance for as low as $29/ Month! See if you qualify.

Get paid to E*TRADE

Sign up today and claim your reward.

VA Mortgage Rates In 2016

VA Rates as Low as 2.75% (3.028% APR) 15 Year Fixed. Exclusive For Veteran & Military Takes 1 Min!

Insane Navy Seal Flashlight, should it be banned?

The Military has recently released technology that is now available to the public. Get yours before they run out - Limited Supply!

Shop Dinnerware for Less at Walmart

Looking for Kitchen products? Choose from a wide range of kitchen appliances, dinnerware, kitchen tools and cookware at Walmart at low prices.

Heartburn During Pregnancy

Dealing With Pregnancy is Hard Enough. Getting Heartburn While Pregnant is a Pain. Learn What Causes Heartburn During Pregnancy.

Mazda USA - 2016 Mazda6

Check out the MAZDA6 Image Gallery. Build your own 2016 Mazda6 online.

How Older Men Tighten Their Skin

Men, reduce the look of wrinkles, sagging skin and fine lines with this affordable and effective skin tightening treatment without leaving your home.

“It works. Officers were at my home in minutes."

Built by the leading engineers in the country with revolutionary wireless technology... Engineered to make your home feel like a fortress...

Trouble Understanding Your Teen?

Raising teenagers can be a challenge. Learn why teens do what they do in our teen email series.

Got the Need for Speed?

Get on the fast track to a great career. Click here to learn more about training at MMI

Read This Before You Buy Medigap Plan F

Plan F is the most popular Medicare Supplement plan, but there's another Medigap option you should consider.

Attn Home Owners Who Never Miss a Payment.

Home Owners who have not missed a payment in 3 years or more need to read this. If you owe less than $625,000 on your home there is a solution.

Looking for a Reliable & Affordable Luxury Sedan?

With a Starting MSRP of $38,000 and an NHTSA 5-Star Overall Safety Rating, The Hyundai Genesis Combines Affordability and Reliability All In One.