An international study has found that brushing your teeth regularly can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. In the study, researchers reported that people with poor dental hygiene are “21 percent more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease later in life.”
The study is the biggest of its kind with over one million volunteers, many of which were followed for more than one decade. Details of the study were published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
Oral hygiene and brain health
Data from the study show that individuals with bad teeth or failing oral health are “23 percent more likely to develop cognitive decline,” which often leads to Alzheimer’s, a devastating health condition that affects a patient’s memory.
Dr. Sam Asher, the study’s lead author from the University of Eastern Finland, also noted that tooth loss independently increases the risk of cognitive decline by 23 percent and dementia by 13 percent. This suggests that regular visits to the dentist may help prevent dementia.
Severe cases of periodontitis, or inflammation of tooth-supporting tissues, may cause tooth loss. The condition affects about 10 to 15 percent of the world’s adult population
According to estimates, the number of dementia cases worldwide will triple to more than 150 million by 2050. Since there is no mainstream cure for dementia, health experts highlight the importance of having good lifestyle habits that keep the mind sharp.
Gum disease can cause other health issues
According to earlier research, gum disease may be linked to health problems like diabetes and cardiovascular disease. It can also cause chronic systemic inflammation. Experts think that gum disease kills neurons by increasing the number of inflammatory chemicals in the blood.
“Systemic inflammation per se is an independent determinant of cognitive deterioration and links other risk factors including diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol and even [aging] to cognitive deterioration,” explained the researchers.