" The research community does tend to agree that good dental health is vital to prevent the onset of multiple diseases, not just dementia-related syndromes. "
Poor dental hygiene and dementia

New research has found an interesting link suggesting that people with fewer teeth have a greater chance of developing dementia.

The research, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, followed more than 1,500 Japanese adults aged over 60 years for five years between 2007 and 2012. The team specifically wanted to assess the impact of tooth loss on the development of dementia in the elderly.

To do this, they split participants into four categories based on the number of remaining teeth:

  • More than 20 teeth
  • 10-19 teeth
  • 1-9 teeth
  • No teeth

In short and after doing their analysis, the study found that participants with fewer teeth had a greater risk of developing dementia within the time frame of the study period.

Why?

This isn’t the first study to suggest that dental health and hygiene is linked to dementia and the research team have suggested a few reasons as to why:

  1. Chewing can increase cerebral blood flow increasing blood oxygen flow to the brain. This is positive for brain health and thus poor (or lack of) chewing, due to less teeth, might negatively impact brain function.
  2. Dietary changes may result in tooth loss, and thus the choice of diet might also be impacting on brain health.
  3. Chronic systemic inflammation is linked to periodontal disease, which is a major cause of tooth loss and this could also be linked to brain health

While these are just speculations at this point, some with more evidence than others, the research community does tend to agree that good dental health is vital to prevent the onset of multiple diseases, not just dementia-related syndromes.

The researchers also suggest that the findings emphasise the importance of promoting and supporting opportunities for dental care and treatment, especially in terms of maintenance of teeth from an early age for reducing the risk of dementia in later life.

Alzheimer’s Australia has a fact sheet on dental care for people with dementia which you can read at the Alzheimer’s Australia website.

 Posted: April 3rd, 2017
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