A new University of California study has found potential links between good oral hygiene and decreased risk of dementia. The study, which followed 5,468 elderly participants over a period spanning 18 years, found that patients who did not brush their teeth a minimum of once per day were 65 percent more likely to develop symptoms of dementia and related syndromes. Study participants had an average age of 81, with an age range spanning from 52 to 105.
“Not only does the state of your mind predict what kind of oral health habits you practice, it may be that your oral health habits influence whether or not you get dementia,” said Annlia Paganini-Hill, who led the study at the University of California.
Researchers theorize that there may be a causal link in the bacteria which cause gum disease and the dementia symptoms. The study participants who developed dementia were found to have higher levels of gum disease-related bacteria in their brains. It is believed that these bacteria make their way into the brain from the teeth and gums, causing inflammation and, potentially, brain damage.
Gum disease has already been linked to a number of other serious diseases and health risks, including diabetes, stroke and heart disease.
Source: National Post