Is there a link between oral health and cognitive decline?

Better oral hygiene and regular dental visits may play a role in slowing cognitive decline as people age, according to an online science news magazine.

As with so many of these ‘findings’, it’s come from the US, but although the study is not conclusive, we must not dismiss it.

Dental research is fundamental to us at North Street Dental as it helps us keep abreast of emerging possibilities with treatments and materials. It also educates us with medical advances in dentistry.

The social dementia map for America and the UK returns some interesting parallels, so we’d expect to see similar results from a British based study.

Published in the online mag, Science Daily, although evidence is not definitive enough to suggest that one causes the other, research suggests that as the older adult population continues to grow, “the frequency of oral health problems increases significantly in cognitively impaired older people, particularly those with dementia.” (Bei Wu, PhD, Duke University’s School of Nursing in Durham, NC).

In seeking a link between oral health and cognitive status, scientists collected data between 1993 and 2013.

Some studies found that oral health measures such as the number of teeth, the number of cavities, and the presence of periodontal disease – also known as gum disease – were possibly associated with an increased risk of cognitive decline or dementia, while others studies were unable to confirm any association.

Researchers also noted that limited studies suggest that periodontal conditions such as gingivitis can be associated with more inferior cognitive status or cognitive decline.

Is there a link between oral health and cognitive decline

Is there a link between oral health and cognitive decline?

As clinicians we desperately want people to care for their teeth. Perhaps this is another reason to inspire brushing, flossing and going to the dentist.

But if this tenuous link is not reason enough, there’s plenty of others that are rooted in approved research.

NHS UK says: ”Gum disease has proven links to a variety of other health problems, including:

  • Heart disease and heart attacks
  • Diabetes and its control
  • Stroke
  • Rheumatoid arthritis”

The good news is that by brushing your teeth properly and looking after your gums, it can not only prevent and treat gum disease but also improve your overall health and help to reduce your risk of other health problems.