According to a recent study, those who brush their teeth daily have a lower risk of developing dementia later in life.
Researchers from the University of California observed nearly 5,500 elderly individuals over an 18-year period. They discovered that those who reported brushing their teeth less than once a day were 65% more likely to develop dementia than those who brushed daily.
The study does more than just show that mental health affects brushing habits, it also suggests that poor oral hygiene may actually influence the onset of dementia.
Bacteria related to gum disease has already been implicated in a number of conditions such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Other studies have shown that patients with Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, have higher concentrations of these bacteria in their brains. It is thought that gum disease bacteria may get into the brain and cause inflammation and brain damage.
The results of the University of California study are far from conclusive, however. For instance, the researchers did not do any dental examinations but relied instead on medical reports and interviews. In addition, the study found that the correlation between poor oral hygiene and dementia was much more pronounced in women than in men.
Even with these limitations, the study does remind us once again how important oral health is to overall health. The way you take care of your teeth affects not only your mouth, but your entire body.