According to a recent study, people who maintain good oral hygiene by maintaining healthy gums and teeth have lower risk of developing dementia later in their lives.
Annila Paganini-Hill from the University of California who led the study along with her team observed almost 5,500 elders over a span of 18 years. People who brushed their teeth less than once a day were 65 percent more likely to develop dementia as compared to those who brushed everyday.
Inflammation associated with certain bacteria causing gum- infections is associated with conditions like heart-disease, strokes and diabetes. Studies have shown that people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease which is the most common form of dementia have more bacteria related to gum disease in their brains than those without Alzheimer’s.
Hence it was suggested that gum-disease bacteria might be causing inflammation and damage in the brain. Approximately 5,468 residents in California retirement community were observed from 1992-2010. Most participants were white, well educated and mostly affluent. At the start of the study, patients averaged an age of 81 years and did not have dementia.
They reported about their dental heath habits, teeth conditions and if they wore dentures. During the next 18 years, 1,145 participants were diagnosed with dementia. Out of 78 women who reported that they brushed their teeth less than once a day in 1992, 21 were diagnosed with dementia by 2010.
One in every 3.7 women who were irregular brushers developed dementia compared to one in 4.5 women who brushed everyday. Amongst men, one in six irregular brushers developed dementia. That is, men who did not brush daily were 22 percent more likely to develop dementia compared to those who brushed everyday. Unlike women, men who did not wear dentures were twice more likely to develop dementia.
This was probably because women wore dentures more often than men or because they visited their dentist regularly. Despite limitations, Paganini said that practicing good oral health habits to avoid tooth loss or oral disease and wearing dentures when required could reduce chances of developing dementia.