Dental Health Affects Dementia

People who keep their teeth and gums healthy with regular brushing may have a lower risk of developing dementia.
Researchers followed close to 5,500 elderly people over an 18-year period. Women who reported brushing their teeth less than once a day were up to 65 percent more likely to develop dementia.

Inflammation from gum disease-related bacteria impacts heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Gum disease bacteria might get into the brain causing inflammation and brain damage, researchers told Reuters Health.

Participants ranged in age from 52 to 105, with an average age of 81. 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.åÊ

Researchers followed-up 18 years later, using interviews, medical records and in some cases death certificates to determine that 1,145 of the original group had been diagnosed with dementia.

Men were less affected. The less frequent brushers were 22 percent more likely to have dementia than those who did brush daily. Statistically, however, the effect was so small it could have been due to chance, the researchers said.

There was 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 – the latter group were almost twice as likely to develop dementia.

That effect was not seen in women.

So, brush your teeth, floss, gargle, use one of those tongue doohickeys and see your dentists regularly. åÊ