Brushing your teeth 'can help ward off devastating condition'
March 16, 2017
A study of elderly people found losing teeth almost doubled the risk of developing the devastating neurological condition.
Those with only one to nine teeth remaining were 81 per cent more likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease during the next five years.
Findings emphasise the clinical importance of dental care and treatment, especially in terms of maintenance of teeth from an early age for reducing the future risk of dementia.
One possible explanation is the act of chewing boosts blood and oxygen flow to the head, keeping the brain healthy.
Tooth loss may also lead to people eating less healthily, while chronic inflammation of the gums could help bring on dementia.
A growing number off studies have focused on the link between oral and mental health.
About 46.8 million people worldwide have dementia with the number of cases expected to almost double every twenty years.
The number of sufferers in the UK is expected to crash through the one million barrier by 2025, and two million by 2050, from the current 850,000, the causes are unknown, and there is no cure.
Scientists found gum disease speeds up mental decline by six times. Periodontitis, or gum disease, is common in older people and can get worse in old age as people struggle to maintain their oral hygiene.
Gum bacteria is believed to increase levels of inflammation in the body, which has been linked to greater mental decline in people with Alzheimer's.
There may be several plausible reasons why tooth loss can cause dementia.
First, it has been suggested that masticatory stimulation with normal occlusion (contact between teeth) increases cerebral blood flow, activation of the cortical area, and blood oxygen levels.
Thus, poorer masticatory performance resulting from tooth loss might negatively affect brain function, which may result in development of dementia.
Second, dietary changes resulting from tooth loss have been known to play a role in dementia risk.
It was hypothesised that the decrease in masticatory performance due to tooth loss could lead to poor nutritional status, which might in turn affect dementia risk.
Third, the influence of chronic inflammation on development of dementia, especially in Alzheimer's disease, is one possible pathway.
Chronic systemic inflammation linked to periodontal disease, which is a major cause of tooth loss in adults, could contribute to the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease.
Finally, there is a possibility that poor oral health is a marker of overall health status, including potential risk factors for dementia, because common oral conditions such as tooth loss reflect history of diseases, health behaviour, and health care throughout the life course of an individual.
Gum disease can be controlled through regular brushing and mouthwash treatments, and experts say keeping up with dental health could be an easy way of lessening the impact of Alzheimer's.
One in eight people are now looking after someone with dementia, with more than half attempting to 'juggle' paid work with caring duties.
Simply looking after dental health could vastly improve Alzheimer's progression.Gum disease is widespread in the UK and in older age groups is thought to be a major cause of tooth loss.
In the UK in 2009, around 80 per cent of adults over 55 had evidence of gum disease.
Four in ten cent of adults aged over 65 to 74 had less than 21 of their original teeth, with half of them reporting gum disease before they lost teeth.