The more teeth you lose over a lifetime, the greater your odds of develops dementia, a new review of existing proof suggests. However, older adults who get dentures to replace their lost ones teeth may be better protected against this increased risk.
Research continues to show a possible link between the health of your teeth and gums and other parts of the body, in particular heart and brain. However, a single study or two is usually not enough to provide clear evidence of aand-effect the relationship between two things, which is why researchers regularly perform meta-analysiss from previous research to get a better feel of the body of evidence (of course itself meta-analyzes have their limitations).
Researchers from New York University decided to do just that, looks by 14 studies of older adults who attempted to investigate the association between tooth loss and cognitive function. In total, these studies are trackedterm of approx. 34,000 participants, during which period there were 4,600 documented cases of cognitive decline.
Overall, the researchers found that tooth loss was associated with cognitive decline. But this relationship grew in strength as more teeth were lost –something that researchers call a dose-response effect. Eafter checking for other risk factors, the researchers found that greater tooth loss was associated with a 48% higher risk of cognitive decline and a 28% higher risk of being diagnosed with dementia. This risk was greatest for people who lost all their teeth, but it was non-significant for people who lost their teeth but who had subsequently used dentures.
“Moderate quality evidence suggested that tooth loss was independently linked to cognitive impairment and dementia,” the researchers wrote in their paper, published this week in The Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine.
There are various theories as to how bad dental hygiene can be tied to the health of our brain. Chronic inflammation from ongoing gum disease can increase our vulnerability to the complicated process in the brain that e.g. Starts dementia. Yet there is also the possibility that there is no direct relationship between the two at all. Perhaps there are other important factors in a person’s life that both explain why people lose their teeth and experience cognitive decline, such as lack of good health care. However, finding a dose-response effect in these studies supports the idea that keeping our teeth healthy directly affects dementia risk, at least at some level. It is the same dose-response effect that, for example, lets us know if a potential new drug in a clinical trial is actually doing what it is supposed to do.
If the results are validated by continued research, they can also point to a cheap but effective way to keep people’s brains healthier into their later years, the researchers say, both to promote good dental hygiene in our lives and to take immediate care of people who lose teeth. That is it estimated that so many as one out of every 10 Americans over the age of 50 have lost all their teeth.
“Our findings underscore the importance of maintaining good oral hygiene and its role in helping maintain cognitive function,” said senior author Bei Wu, dean’s professor of global health at NYU’s Rory Meyers College of Nursing, in a statement. released of the university.
This is actually one of two studies this week to find a link between oral health and dementia. Friday, research funded by the National Institutes of Health found that older adults diagnosed with gum disease and other oral infections were more likely to later develop Alzheimer’s.