The Effect of Poor Dental Care on the Mind

Saturday, December 21st, 2013, 6:45 pm

A new study found that adults with poor dental health also had relatively poorer cognitive function.

The study’s findings, which were published in the December issue of The Journal of the American Dental Association, found that the fewer natural teeth that a person had intact, the more poorly they performed on cognitive function tests, compared to those with more teeth. Cognitive function represents how well a person does with memory and managing words and numbers, and gauges word recall, word fluency and skill with numbers.

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, looked at 6,000 men and women between the ages of 45 and 64. The researchers analyzed the subjects’ collected data, including tests of memory and thinking skills, as well as tooth and gum examinations.

The researchers found that people who had none of their teeth had poorer cognitive function than people who had teeth, and those with fewer teeth had poorer cognition than those with more teeth. Along with missing teeth, people with serious gum bleeding also scored worse on the cognitive function tests, compared to those with better gum health.

The researchers couldn’t determine whether it was poor dental health that caused cognitive function to decline, or vice versa. They noted that one possibility is that poor dental health reflects a poor diet, and that the lack of antioxidant-rich “brain food” may in turn contribute to cognitive decline.

Another possibility posed by the researchers is that dental disease – especially gum disease – increases inflammation not only in the mouth and gums, but throughout the circulatory system, which affects the brain and can ultimately lead to decreased cognitive skills.

This study highlights the importance of taking control of your dental health, since it doesn’t only affect your teeth. Multiple previous studies have linked tooth decay, plaque and gum inflammation to various other physical ailments, including heart disease, artery calcification, gingivitis, stroke and diabetes.

To keep your mouth and teeth healthy, get routine dental exams and cleanings twice a year and follow a dental health regimen; including brushing twice daily, flossing frequently and using mouthwash.

Dentistry in Toccoa

A thorough examination and evaluation by Dr. Joseph Wilbanks will determine what you need to keep your teeth and gums as healthy as possible. To learn more about dental care, contact us today and schedule your consultation. Our offices are located in Toccoa, GA, and we can be reached at 706-886-9439. We look forward to hearing from you.

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