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Brushing Teeth and Dementia; What’s the Connection?

We have all been taught at an early age that brushing your teeth is important for a healthy mouth and bright smile.  But there are other reasons brushing daily is important to your body and mind.  One of these reasons is Dementia.

According to a U.S. study done in 2012 by the University of California, people who keep their teeth and gums healthy with regular brushing may have a lower risk of developing dementia at a later age.

For the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society study, researchers followed 5,468 elderly residents of a Californian retirement community with an average age of 81, over an 18-year-period and found that those who reported brushing their teeth less than once a day were up to 65 percent more likely to develop dementia than those who brushed daily.

“In addition to helping maintain natural, healthy, functional teeth, oral health behaviors are associated with lower risk of dementia in older adults,” the researchers wrote in the study.

However, they also warned that the study did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship between brushing teeth and dementia. Study researcher Annlia Paganini-Hill has stated that she would be reluctant to draw the conclusion that brushing your teeth would definitely prevent you from getting Alzheimer’s disease.

Bacteria from gum disease is known to cause inflammation, and we do know this can play a part in other diseases such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Other studies done have found that people with Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, have more gum disease-related bacteria in their brains than a person without Alzheimer’s. If the bacteria from gum disease can get into the brain, it could cause inflammation and brain damage.

Preventing Dementia by BrushingThe best medicine is always prevention.  It has been proven that if we take care of our oral health and brush daily, we can prevent future illness.  If this study is accurate, it only gives us one more reason to stay the course so that we can enjoy long, full lives.  We encourage you to make regular checkups with your local dentist, and as always, visit us at Dr. Baxley if you are in need of a new dentist near Beaumont, Texas.

If you have a loved one who is already beginning to experience Alzheimer’s disease, visit the website at www.alzheimers.org.uk for dental care tips for Alzheimer’s and Dementia patients.