Poor Oral Health Linked to Cognitive Decline

Poor Oral Health Linked to Cognitive Decline

Whether in need of quality oral care, treatment for dry mouth or dentures in Castle Rock, senior patients can expect the best from our team of dentists at Glow Comprehensive Dentistry.

It can be tempting for many senior patients to consider poor oral health as just a natural part of the aging process. A lifetime of wear can cause even the healthiest of smiles to lose a little of its luster. Teeth become cracked, chipped, broken or even must be removed due to the effects of gum disease and decay. While dental implants and full and partial dentures help ensure that senior patients can enjoy a fully functional set of teeth, ignoring the importance of quality oral health can have significant consequences.

Recent studies have linked poor oral hygiene with poor mental health in seniors. The findings do, however, show an association and not an established cause and effect relationship. As part of the study, researchers examined studies on cognitive decline and oral health published between 1993 and 2013.

The study was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

The Link Between Oral and Mental Health

In a review of the data, researchers discovered that some of the studies found that oral health indicators – such as the presence of gum disease, number of cavities and number of remaining teeth – were associated with a higher risk of mental decline or dementia. Other studies examined as part of the review found no correlation.

Researchers also noted that some of the findings based on the number of teeth or cavities had conflicting results. Overall, the evidence showed that the frequency of oral health problems a senior patient suffers from increase the likelihood of cognitive impairment significantly.

While the evidence did suggest such a correlation, researchers were quick to point out that an insufficient amount of evidence existed that conclusively linked oral health with cognitive function.

To determine why this association exists, researchers hypothesized several potential factors that could be at play.

One such theory suggested that a shared inflammatory pathway is common to both oral disease and cognitive decline. Another speculated that some patients with dementia may develop an apraxia, a mental condition that causes a patient to forget how to perform a previously learned task, such as brushing or tying their shoes.

Patients suffering from cognitive decline may also just forget to regularly brush, which would also explain the frequency of poor oral health in patients suffering from dementia.

As the number of seniors in the U.S. continues to grow, oral health professionals will need to continue to better monitor senior oral care. Currently, approximately 36 percent of adults 70 and older suffer from some type of cognitive problem.

From Dentures in Castle Rock to Better Oral Care

No matter the needs of our senior patients, whether dentures or advanced dental care, our team at Glow Comprehensive Dentistry has the experience and knowledge necessary to maintain and improve senior oral health.

The first step toward better oral care is to schedule regular exams and checkups with our Castle Rock dentists. These exams provide our staff the time and opportunity to truly assess our senior patients’ oral health. While it’s tempting to think that oral care isn’t as important as we age, results of studies like this show just how important healthy teeth and gums are now and in the future.

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