Study Links Dementia To Oral Health. Let’s talk Oral-Brain Connection

Periodontal disease, tooth decay and massive tooth loss are linked to an increased risk of dementia, researchers say. As the average American life expectancy increases, more and more people are being diagnosed with dementia. To prevent dementia, it is important to eat a healthy diet, exercise, stop smoking, and control chronic conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes. That’s why you should also take good care of your teeth and visit your dentist regularly.

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In this study, information on oral hygiene, including professional tooth cleaning and brushing frequency, was collected through self-administered questionnaires. Researchers have found that professional dental cleaning and regular brushing can reduce the risk of dementia. Additionally, dentists evaluated the patients' teeth and found that periodontal disease, dental caries, and the loss of 8 to 14 teeth were associated with an increased risk of dementia.

The study adds to growing evidence linking oral health to dementia. I first became aware of this connection when a colleague and friend studied the association between periodontitis and cognitive impairment in older adults, a study he later published. Because of this study and others like it, some researchers say improving oral health may be beneficial in preventing dementia. It's important to note that these studies found associations but have not proven causation.

Oral health has been linked to conditions beyond dementia, including cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, rheumatoid arthritis, gastrointestinal disease, prematurity and low birth weight. Doctors receive little oral health education during medical school and often even less during residency training, so your doctor may be reluctant to provide you with guidance on the role that oral hygiene plays in your overall health.

Dentist's Advice

“The importance of interprofessional education between medicine and dentistry is becoming increasingly apparent. Recently, medical students have shown an increased interest in oral health. New York Medical College offers an elective course in oral health, and medical students in Figure Touro Dental Health works with dental students on month-long rotations. Dr. Aaron Yancoskie, Ph.D., Ph.D., assistant dean for academic affairs, said: “There are many ways to incorporate oral health into the medical curriculum. “

To improve your oral health, you should brush your teeth for at least two minutes at least twice a day—in the morning and before bed. You should also floss at least twice a day and rinse your mouth with mouthwash. Flossing before brushing removes loose food particles and bacteria. Dr. Yancoskie states, “Proper flossing takes patience and practice, but the benefits are well worth the effort. Proper flossing helps remove the disease-causing bacteria associated with periodontitis below the gum line. Brushing alone cannot do this. To this point. If you use a manual toothbrush, be sure to replace it every three to four months to ensure the bristles still keep your teeth clean. By following these tips, you'll help keep your teeth clean, your smile bright, and your gums healthy. and fresh breath.

Additionally, you should visit your dentist regularly for teeth cleanings. This should be done every six to 12 months, but if you have been diagnosed with periodontitis, it should be done at least every three months. Sadly, most Americans have not seen a dentist in the past year. The main reason is cost. Other reasons include fear of visiting the dentist, inconvenient location or time, difficulty finding a dentist and belief that it is not necessary.

Oral Health in America

Despite the best intentions, many people will face challenges in following these recommendations due to disparities in access to care. Oral health care in the United States lags behind general health care, in part because many health insurance plans do not cover oral care. For adults ages 19 to 64, 59% have private dental benefits, 7.4% have Medicaid dental benefits and 33.6% have no dental benefits, according to the American Dental Association. People also don’t take preventive oral care as seriously. Many people only visit the dentist when they experience pain in their mouth, which is usually in the advanced stages of dental disease.

For example, Marry Otto broke the story of Deamonte Driver, who died in 2007 in part because he didn't go to the dentist in time for a simple tooth extraction. Before he could get treatment, an abscess developed in his mouth and spread to his brain. Despite undergoing multiple surgeries and spending a long time in intensive care, he died.This sad story illustrates the pervasive inequities in access to oral care in the United States

Maintaining good oral hygiene is just one example of lifestyle changes that may lower your chances of developing dementia later in life. October is Oral Hygiene Awareness Month, so it’s a great time to improve your oral hygiene. Be sure to visit your dentist and thank your dental hygienist for helping you stay healthy.

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