Oral hygiene is an important part of a healthy routine, but emerging research suggests it may also be a predictor of cognitive functioning. Studies reveal a direct correlation between poor dental health and cognitive decline in the elderly. If you’re a senior showing signs of poor oral health, contact your dentist to assess your risk.
Dementia & Dental Health Explained
Signs & Studies
Recent studies have linked masticatory activities, like chewing, with neurological processes such as memory retention and learning. This relationship indicates that the ability to chew may protect against cognitive degeneration. Bilateral research revealed seniors with suboptimal oral health issues such as gingivitis, tooth loss, and chewing difficulties are shown to have a significant decline in mental health. One study conducted with 557 individuals ages 77 and older found those who reported these dental problems were also experiencing cognitive impairment.
Research suggests three possible reasons that poor oral health causes cognitive decline. If you don’t chew, the brain won’t receive mastication-induced sensory stimulation. Without regular activity, cells don’t grow and neurological processes slow down. Seniors who can’t chew may also not be getting the proper vitamins and minerals when they eat to nourish the brain. Periodontal disease, an advanced form of gum disease, may also play a part in cognitive conditions.
It’s essential for seniors to make oral health a priority as they age. One study following 5,500 seniors over an 18-year period revealed those who only brush once a day were 65% more likely to develop dementia. Taking medicines that cause dry mouth, type II diabetes, and other medical conditions may also affect your risk. Schedule regular visits to your dentist and make sure they have a copy of your current health records and a list of medications.
Keep your teeth and gums healthy by contacting with the dentist Four Corners Dental Group in Anchorage and Wasilla, AK. This family dentistry practice offers patient-focused, affordable dental care so you get the help you need at every stage of your life. Their caring and professional staff quickly diagnose any dental problems and work with you to create a plan to maintain a healthy smile. Learn more about their available services online, or call (907) 258-3384 for Anchorage and (907) 376-2790 for Wasilla to schedule an appointment today.