Gum disease and tooth loss linked to brain shrinkage


Studies have found that gum disease and tooth loss are linked to shrinkage of the brain's hippocampus, which plays an important role in memory and Alzheimer's disease. This study does not prove that gum disease or tooth loss causes Alzheimer's disease; it only shows an association.

Tooth loss and gum disease, an inflammation of the tissue around the teeth that can lead to gum recession and loose teeth, are very common, so it's important to evaluate potential links to dementia. Our research finds that these conditions may play a role in the health of areas of the brain that control thinking and memory, giving people another reason to take better care of their teeth.

Satoshi Yamaguchi, PhD, DDS, study author, Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan

The study involved 172 people with an average age of 67 who had no memory problems at the start of the study.

Participants had dental exams and memory tests at the start of the study. They also took brain scans to measure the volume of the hippocampus at the beginning of the study and again four years later.

The researchers counted the number of teeth in each participant and checked for gum disease by looking at periodontal probing depth, a measurement of gum tissue. A healthy reading is one to three millimeters.

Mild gum disease involves probing to a depth of three or four millimeters in multiple areas, while severe gum disease involves probing to a depth of five or six millimeters in multiple areas and more bone loss, and can lead to loosening and eventual loss of teeth. .

Researchers found that the number of teeth and the amount of gum disease were associated with changes in the hippocampus on the left side of the brain.

For people with mild gum disease, having fewer teeth was associated with faster brain shrinkage in the left hippocampus.

However, in people with severe gum disease, the more teeth they have, the faster the brain shrinks in the same area of ​​the brain.

After adjusting for age, the researchers found that for people with mild gum disease, the increased rate of brain shrinkage associated with one missing tooth was equivalent to nearly a year of aging. In contrast, for people with severe gum disease, the increase in brain shrinkage associated with one extra tooth was equivalent to 1.3 years of brain aging.

“These results highlight the importance of maintaining dental health and not just retaining the teeth,” Yamaguchi said. The findings suggest that retaining teeth with severe gum disease is associated with brain shrinkage. Control the progression of gum disease with regular dental visits to Importantly, teeth with severe gum disease may need to be extracted and replaced with appropriate restorative devices.

Yamaguchi said future studies with larger populations are needed. Another limitation of this study is that it was conducted in one region of Japan, so the results may not be generalizable to other regions.

This research was supported by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan; Keio University; Japan Arteriosclerosis Prevention Foundation; Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare of Japan; Teikyo University; Pfizer Japan; Bayer Pharmaceuticals; Chugai Pharmaceutical; Daiichi Sankyo; Astellas Pharmaceuticals ; Takeda Pharmaceuticals; Institute of Health Sciences; Health Sciences Center; and Takeda Science Foundation.

source:

American Academy of Neurology

Journal reference:

Yamaguchi, S., et al. (2023) Association between dental health and progression of hippocampal atrophy in community residents: the Ohasama study. Neurology. doi.org/10.1212/WNL.0000000000207579.



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