The brain benefits of dental care
Taking good care of your teeth may be linked to better brain health, according to a study published in the online issue of Neurology®. The study found that gum disease and tooth loss were linked to brain shrinkage in the hippocampus, which plays a role in memory and Alzheimer’s disease.
The study involved 172 people with an average age of 67 who did not have memory problems at the beginning of the study. For each participant, researchers counted the number of teeth and checked for gum disease by looking at periodontal probing depth, a measurement of the gum tissue. Healthy readings are from one to three millimeters.
Mild gum disease involves probing depths of three or four millimeters in several areas, while severe gum disease involves probing depths of five or six millimeters in several areas as well as more bone loss and can cause teeth to become loose and eventually fall out.
Researchers found that the number of teeth and amount of gum disease were linked to changes in the left hippocampus of the brain. For people with mild gum disease having fewer teeth was associated with a faster rate of brain shrinkage in the left hippocampus. However, for people with severe gum disease having more teeth was associated with a faster rate of brain shrinkage in the same area of the brain.
Reference: AMERICAN ACADEMY OF NEUROLOGY, JOURNAL Neurology
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