Keep your mouth healthy, or you may develop dementia
SUMMARY: Study shows neglecting basic oral care may increase your risk of dementia
Posted: August 22, 2012
If you already use alcohol free mouthwash to get rid of bad breath, you probably practice other important oral care habits, such as brushing your teeth regularly and flossing. However, did you know that you're not only lowering the risk of halitosis when you care for your teeth, but also potentially reducing your chance of developing a number of other conditions? For example, a study published in Clinical Microbiology Reviews found that poor oral health has been associated with diabetes, cardiovascular health, low birth weight and bacterial pneumonia.
Now, recent research from University of California researchers shows that there may be a connection between insufficient oral care and an increased risk of dementia.
A much higher chance
According to Reuters, scientists followed nearly 5,500 individuals over an 18-year period. At the beginning of the study, none of these people had dementia, but by the end the association between dental health and the brain condition was clear.
"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 published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, quoted by the news source.
She added that it is believed that gum disease bacteria may be able to get into the brain and cause inflammation, leading to brain damage over time. Paganini-Hill and fellow researchers discovered that women who reported in 2002 that they did not brush their teeth at least once a day were 65 percent more likely to have develop dementia by 2010 than those who brushed daily.
Difference between men and women
The effect of dental care on the brain seemed to be less pronounced in men. Males who reported that they were irregular brushers were 22 percent more likely to develop dementia than those who cleaned their teeth at least once a day. The researchers were unsure why this discrepancy exists, and said it may mean that men visit the dentist more often.
According to the Alzheimer's Association, more than 5 million Americans have Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of dementia. So why take the risk? Brush, floss and use an alcohol free mouthwash to eliminate halitosis, and potentially reduce your risk of memory problems in old age.