Get your toothbrushes ready, because experts have found a surprising link between brushing your teeth and reducing the risk of developing dementia.
A study by Tohoku University Graduate School of Dentistry in Sendai, Japan looked at adults with and without memory issues averaging from 67-years-old, and subjected them to dental examinations.
Tohuku University Graduate School found that those with mild gum disease and fewer healthy teeth were subjected to a faster rate of hippocampus shrinkage – the hippocampus being directly connected to humans’ ability to learn and memorise
The study found someone with even one missing tooth showed an increase in the rate of brain shrinkage.
Maintaining healthy teeth
“Retaining more healthy teeth without periodontal disease may help to protect brain health. It is important to retain more teeth, but retaining more teeth with severe periodontal disease may be detrimental to the brain,” study author Dr Satoshi Yamaguchi explains.
“It has also been suggested that the pathogen of periodontal disease itself may invade the brain and damage nerve tissue,” Yamaguchi states. “Fewer teeth reduce chewing stimulation, which can also lead to brain atrophy.”
Talking about the importance of maintaining our oral health, Yamaguchi added: “It is important to retain more teeth, but retaining more teeth with severe periodontal disease may be detrimental to the brain.
“Regular dental visits are important to control the progression of periodontal disease, and teeth with severe periodontal disease may need to be extracted and replaced with appropriate dentures.”
Percy Griffin, director of scientific engagement at Alzheimer’s Association, reviewed the findings, adding: “This research adds to existing evidence connecting oral health and cognition. We’ve previously seen some data to date linking periodontal diseases and cognitive decline, but this research looks specifically at the number of teeth.”
“Help protect your brain by taking care of your teeth with daily brushing and flossing. If these activities result in gum pain or bleeding,” Cognitive Vitality says. “It may be a sign of gingivitis, so be sure to have it checked out while it is still at this early, treatable stage, before it progresses to periodontitis.”