BRUSHING your teeth regularly helps ward off dementia, according to new research. A study of elderly people found losing teeth almost doubled the risk of developing the devastating neurological condition. Those with only one to nine teeth remaining were 81 per cent more likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease during the next five years.
The risk rose by 62 per cent for those with 10 to 19 teeth compared to individuals with at least 20 of their original 32. But those no teeth the risk was 63 per cent – perhaps because they have a full set of false teeth instead. The findings published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society add to evidence that good oral hygiene boosts mental health.
Dr. Tomoyuki Ohara, of Kyushu University, Japan, said the more teeth people have, the less likely they are to get Alzheimer’s. He said: “Our findings emphasise the clinical importance of dental care and treatment, especially in terms of maintenance of teeth from an early age for reducing the future risk of dementia.” One possible explanation is the act of chewing boosts blood and oxygen flow to the head, keeping the brain healthy.
Tooth loss may also lead to people eating less healthily, while chronic inflammation of the gums could help bring on dementia. A growing number of studies have focused on the link between oral and mental health. About 46.8 million people worldwide have dementia with the number of cases expected to almost double every twenty years.
The causes are unknown, and there is no cure. Last year a study by King’s College, London, and the University of Southampton found regular brushing could slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s. Scientists found gum disease speeds up mental decline by six times. Periodontitis, or gum disease, is common in older people and can get worse in old age as people struggle to maintain their oral hygiene. (*Source: EXPRESS – Home of the Daily and Sunday Express Wed, Mar 8, 2017)
Dr. Ohara said there may be several plausible reasons why tooth loss can cause dementia. Gum disease can be controlled through regular brushing and mouthwash treatments and experts say keeping up with dental health could be an easy way of lessoning the impact of Alzheimer’s. Simply looking after dental health could vastly improve Alzheimer’s progression.