I had read reports from the past about the role of dental health and a relationship to cognition and brain health. The primary mechanism seemed to involve inflammation. Inflammation can occur throughout the body and if one area of the body incurs inflammation that tends to indicate a similar response in other areas of the body.
Inflammation of the gums is a relatively common sign that many of us have been educated about by our dentists. It is probably fair to say that we never considered our brain when our dentists talked to us about our dental health and gum inflammation.
A recent study by researchers at the University of California found that persons who brushed their teeth less than once daily were 65% more likely to develop dementia than those who brushed daily. It may be that your oral health habits influence your brain health. The study that followed nearly 5,500 elderly over an 18 year-period was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
The authors of the study pointed to inflammation from gum disease-related bacteria as a factor in a host of conditions including heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. It appears dementia can be added to the list. Some studies have found people with Alzheimer’s disease have more gum disease-related bacteria in their brains than those without Alzheimer’s.
It is thought that gum disease bacteria may infiltrate the human brain causing inflammation and brain damage. The authors are quick to point out that the results of their study are correlational and not causal. The findings do raise important questions regarding the role of inflammation on our general health and how one area of the body can certainly affect another area.
One thing is for sure, it certainly does not hurt to brush our teeth daily and maintain good oral health.