Good oral health care teeth may be linked to better brain health, according to a study published in the July 2023, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
The study found that gum disease and tooth loss were linked to brain shrinkage in the hippocampus. This plays a role in memory and Alzheimer’s disease.
What is proper oral health care important for brain health?
“Tooth loss and gum disease, which is inflammation of the tissue around the teeth, can cause shrinkage of the gums”. Said Satoshi Yamaguchi, PhD, DDS, of Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan.” Our study found that these conditions may play a role in the health of the brain area that controls thinking and memory, giving people another reason to take better care of their teeth.”
Gum disease & tooth loss study
The study involved 172 people with an average age of 67 who did not have memory problems.
Participants had dental exams and took memory tests at the beginning of the study. They also had brain scans to measure the volume of the hippocampus at the beginning and again four years later.
For each participant, researchers counted the number of teeth and checked for gum disease by looking at periodontal probing depth. Healthy periodontal readings are from one to three millimetres.
Mild gum disease involves probing depths of three or four millimetres, while severe gum disease involves five or six. This goes for several areas, same with more bone loss can cause teeth to become loose and eventually fall out.
How the number of teeth & gum disease relate to brain health
Researchers found that the number of teeth and gum disease amounts were related to changes in the brain’s left hippocampus.
- People with mild gum disease and fewer teeth lead to a faster rate of shrinkage in the left hippocampus.
- People with severe gum disease and more teeth also lead to a faster rate of brain shrinkage in left hippocampus.
After adjusting for age, researchers found that for people with mild gum disease, the increase in the rate of brain shrinkage due to one less tooth was equivalent to nearly one year of brain aging. Conversely, people with severe gum disease increase brain shrinkage because one tooth was equivalent to 1.3 years of brain aging.
“These results highlight the importance of preserving the health of the teeth and not just retaining the teeth,” Dr Yamaguchi said. “The findings suggest that retaining teeth with severe gum disease is related with brain atrophy. Controlling the progression of gum disease through regular dental visits is crucial, and teeth with severe gum disease may need to be extracted and replaced with implants and crowns or bridges.”
Achieve good oral health with the help of a dentist in Moss Vale
At Dr Patrick Meaney & Associates, not only can we treat your gum disease, if you’re unlucky enough to have lost teeth, we can replace them with dental implants.
Give us a call on (02) 4869 3111 or book an appointment online to achieve healthier gums and get the brightest smiles!