Women who look after their teeth and gums 'have lower risk of dementia
Date Posted: 26.08.2012
Remembering to brush your teeth could help keep your memory sharp in years to come.
Researchers who followed nearly 5,500 elderly folk over an 18-year period found those who brushed their teeth less than once a day were up to 65 per cent more likely to develop dementia than those who brushed three times a day.
Annlia Paganini-Hill, the study’s lead author, said: ‘Not only does the state of your mind predict what kind of oral health habits you practise, it may be that your oral health habits influence whether or not you get dementia.’
The study is not the first to link poor oral health with health conditions. For instance, those with gum disease are more prone to suffer a narrowing of the arteries that can cause heart attacks and strokes.
Some research has also found those with Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, have more gum disease-related bacteria in their brains than others.
It’s thought gum disease bacteria causes inflammation and brain damage when it reaches the brain. The latest study tracked the health of almost 5,500 residents at a Californian retirement community from 1992 to 2010.
Some 18 years later, 1,145 of the original group had signs of dementia. Of 78 women who brushed their teeth less than once a day in 1992, 21 had dementia by 2010, about one case per 3.7 women.
In comparison, among those who brushed at least once a day, closer to one in every 4.5 women developed dementia – a 65 per cent greater chance of the disease.
Writing in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, the University of California researchers said that while they hadn’t proved dental decay can fuel dementia, the topic warrants more research.
They said: ‘If confirmed…regular oral hygiene and use of dentures may reduce the risk of dementia.’
Jessica Smith, of the Alzheimer’s Society, said: ‘There have been a number of studies looking at the link between inflammation caused by factors including poor dental health and dementia, but this link is not yet fully understood.’
Head injury and malnutrition are also important causes of tooth loss in adults, and either of those might increase the dementia risk, said Amber Watts, who studies dementia at the University of Kansas and wasn't part of the study.
'I would be reluctant to draw the conclusion that brushing your teeth would definitely prevent you from getting Alzheimer's disease,' she said.
Source : Daily Mail Health Section, 21st August 2012