Is There a Link Between Oral Health and the Rate of Cognitive Decline?
Better oral hygiene and regular dental visits may play a role in slowing cognitive decline as people age, although evidence is not definitive enough to suggest that one causes the other. The findings, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, come from the first systematic review of studies focused on oral health and cognition.
“Clinical evidence suggests that the frequency of oral health problems increases significantly in cognitively impaired older people, particularly those with dementia,” said Bei Wu, PhD, of Duke University’s School of Nursing in Durham, NC. “In addition, many of the factors associated with poor oral health—such as poor nutrition and systemic diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease—are also associated with poor cognitive function.
Some studies found that oral health measures such as the number of teeth, the number of cavities, and the presence of periodontal disease (also known as “gum disease”) were associated with an increased risk of cognitive decline or dementia, while others studies were unable to confirm any association.
“There is not enough evidence to date to conclude that a causal association exists between cognitive function and oral health,” said Dr. Wu.
Bottom line – dental issues can be a systemic cause of health issues. Take care of your oral health.