Poor oral health – a cause of dementia?

Dementia

Poor oral health has long been a cause of many ailments, dental and otherwise. But in this article, let us talk about one issue in particular. Does poor oral health cause dementia? Studies have for a long time shown that dental health might be linked to the presence of alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

But how does poor oral hygiene correlate with dementia?

Not taking proper care of your teeth and skipping brushing or flossing would cause buildup of plaque in your mouth. This accumulation of bacteria then enters the bloodstream via everyday activities like brushing or eating. Once present in the blood, this bacteria can cause all sorts of issues all over the body.

It is hypothesized by some of the research scientists that constant presence of bacteria in the bloodstream instigates the immune system in attacking the brain cells causing dementia. Loss of brain cells usually results in confusion and memory loss.

Studies done by leading medical organizations like NHS UK have shown that people suffering from dementia have a greater concentration of people practising poor oral hygiene habits. One such study has shown us that people with 10-19 teeth in their mouth(as a result of poor oral hygiene) have a 62% higher risk of suffering from dementia.

It is important to understand that although there is definitely correlation between gum disease and dementia and there has been many studies validating it, the research is still preliminary and not conclusive of a direct causation. The sample size of many research studies is still not large enough for us to understand the correlation in detail and what exactly happens due to poor oral habits.

What does this mean to you?

This shows that you ought to practise good oral hygiene to prevent increasing the chance of an onset of dementia.

  • Brushing regularly is not enough. Flossing needs to be done regularly too.
  • Practise proper oral hygiene and learn good brushing and a flossing technique.
  • Undertake regular dental checkups to ensure that there is no accumulation of bacteria in your mouth.
  • Avoid sugary drinks that are known to cause plaque in your mouth and accentuates the presence of bacteria.
  • Prevent consumption of food and drinks that are known to cause staining of teeth.
  • Treat tooth decay problems in its earliest without any delay and before it becomes serious.
  • Elderly people in general should be more cautious of oral health issues, look at the bigger picture and understand what it signifies for the rest of the body.

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