Correlation Exists Between Dental Health, Dementia

Maintaining good oral health will lower the risk of dementia later in life, according to a new a study.

The University of California study showed that there was a 65-percent increase in the possibility of developing dementia for people who brushed their teeth less than once per day. Roughly 5,500 elderly people were studied during an 18-year period for this study.

Inflammation that results from gum disease-related bacteria is involved with several conditions, including stroke, heart disease and diabetes.

There are some studies that have stated that people with Alzheimer’s disease have a higher level of gum disease-related bacteria in their brains than people without Alzheimer’s. The thought process was that the bacteria from gum disease may get trapped in the brain, which would make the brain inflamed and cause damage.

That’s why Annlia Paganini-Hill wanted to conduct this study, to determine the long-term impact of dental health on cognitive function.

Nearly 5,500 residents of a California retirement home were studied from 1992 through 2010. The average age of the patients was 81, but the age range was from 52 to 105. None of the people had dementia when the study began, enabling them to respond to questions about their teeth and whether or not they wore dentures.

When the study was over and the information was poured through, 1,145 of the original participants either died or had some type of dementia.

One in roughly every 3.7 women who said she brushed her teeth less than once per day in 1992 developed dementia. Only about one in every 4.5 women who brushed her teeth at least once per day ended up developing dementia.

For the men, those that brushed less than once each day were only 22 percent likelier to have developed dementia. Men who wore dentures were nearly twice as likely to have dementia when compared to those who had all their teeth, or at least most of them.

The information was published in the Journal of American Geriatrics Society.

This study doesn’t suggest that brushing one’s teeth regularly will prevent dementia across the board and that if one doesn’t brush their teeth often enough that he or she will eventually develop dementia. Instead, it’s further evidence that good oral health will likely lead to good overall health.