It’s pretty well-known that poor dental care can lead to cardiovascular issues, and even oral cancer. What is less well-known however, is the link between oral care and dementia. In 2012 scientists at the University of California discovered there may be a link between poor oral care, and dementia. These findings are integral in understanding the interconnectedness of dental health.
The study, titled “Dentition, Dental Health Habits, and Dementia: The Leisure World Cohort Study” found an interesting connection between poor dental health and dementia. Close to 5,500 seniors participated in this 18-year study. The research indicated that participants who brushed their teeth less than once a day, suffered dire consequences. These infrequent brushers were as much as 65 percent more likely to suffer from dementia than their daily brushing counterparts. That’s a huge instance of dementia among non brushers, and should encourage anyone who doesn’t brush often to do so.
Annlia Paganini-Hill, led the study at the University of California. She spoke to Reuters about the findings. Here is what she has to say regarding the findings.
“Not only does the state of your mind predict what kind of oral health habits you practice,” Paganini-Hill stated to Reuters. “it may be that your oral health habits influence whether or not you get dementia,” she said
Interestingly, the data indicated a significant gender disparity. Namely, there seemed to be a higher correlation between dementia and poor oral care in women than in men. Women who brushed less than once a day, had one case of dementia for every 3.7 women. Women who brushed daily, reported one case of dementia per 4.5 women. That’s where the 65 percent increased risk fof dementia figure came from. For men only 22 percent of brush avoiders developed dementia throughout the study, which is significantly lower. Researchers are unsure why the risks seem to increase for women.
This study isn’t perfect, and more research needs to be done in order to prove the link conclusively. Some issues with the study, was that it was done by patients self-reporting, no examinations were given. This leaves rooms for all sorts of error, and uncontrollable outside factors, leaving the data up for debate. Many different things could have caused the dementia in the participants, but this research is still very telling. Hopefully studies like these will open the door for more research regarding the effects of oral health to be conducted.
Emily Manke is a blogger based out of Portland, Oregon. She writes for a number of blogs, including the blog for this dentist in Tigard, OR.