Study Links Tooth Loss to Dementia

Study Links Tooth Loss to Dementia

For many patients, the need for a dentures Castle Rock dentist becomes a necessity as they grow older. Many patients commonly believe that tooth loss is just a natural part of the aging process similar to needing to wear glasses to read and learning to love Wheel of Fortune.

In reality, however, there’s nothing natural about tooth loss. When properly cared for with daily brushing and flossing and regular exams and checkups, you can enjoy healthy teeth and gums for a lifetime. Not only does protecting your oral health help to strengthen your teeth and gums, it also helps to protect your body from other chronic diseases. In fact, a recent study suggests that tooth loss for seniors actually increases their risk of dementia.

A study conducted in Japan has discovered that individuals who keep the majority of their teeth over the age of 60 are far less likely to develop dementia when compared to those suffering from tooth loss. Even more troubling, the risk of dementia actually seems to increase in direct correlation with the number of teeth lost after the age of 60, reports researchers.

Linking Dementia & Tooth Loss

Involved in the study were over 1,500 Japanese adults who exhibited no signs of dementia at the outset of the study. Researchers then tracked the study participants for roughly five years between 2007 and 2012.

At the beginning of the study, participants were placed into one of four categories, based on their number of remaining teeth. These groups ranged from participants who had no remaining teeth to 20 or more.

Over an average of a little more than 5 years, 11.5 percent of the study participants developed some form of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia – a condition that occurs when the brain receives too little oxidized blood, causing the brain’s nerve cells to deteriorate.

The researchers discovered that the risk of developing dementia increased by 62 percent for those with between 10 to 19 remaining teeth, compared to those who had 20 or more of their original 32 teeth remaining.

The risk of dementia increased to 81 percent for participants who had between one to nine teeth remaining.

While the data in the study was able to link tooth loss to Alzheimer’s disease, not enough data existed to make the same direct correlation to vascular dementia.

Poor Oral Habits or Inflammation

In an effort to determine the link between tooth loss and dementia, researchers offer one possible explanation that gum disease and tooth decay could trigger inflammation – a condition that other studies have previously linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Additionally, tooth loss might indicate a general lack of care and healthy habits throughout an individual’s life, say researchers.

Finally, researchers suggest that chewing may increase blood flow and increase blood oxygen levels, and those with fewer teeth may have trouble chewing enough to produce this effect. Individuals with few remaining permanent teeth may also have trouble chewing hard foods like fruits and vegetables, making them more likely to eat softer foods such as pastas and grains that are higher in sugar.

The results of the study were published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society where researchers concluded: “The findings emphasize the clinical importance of promoting and supporting opportunities for dental care and treatment, especially in terms of maintenance of teeth from an early age, for reducing the risk of dementia in later life.”

While the need for a dentures Castle Rock dentist may seem unavoidable to some, know that maintaining the number of permanent teeth during your senior years can have a far bigger effect on your health than you might think.

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