You’ve probably heard about the connection between poor oral health and heart disease.
However, what you may not know is that the dangers of gum disease go far beyond your heart and can actually put you at risk of kidney disease, diabetes, and even cancer. It can even increase your chances of ending up on a ventilator or dying due to COVID-19.
And now, there’s even more bad news if you’ve been putting off that trip to the dentist, especially if you’re already experiencing tooth loss.
According to a brand new meta-analysis of 14 separate scientific studies, once you start losing teeth, dementia could be just down the road.
The risk increases every time a tooth is lost
The researchers from New York University’s Rory Meyers College of Nursing set out to analyze the growing body of evidence connecting oral health to brain health.
Included in this analysis were 14 studies involving more than 34,000 adults and 4,689 cases of people with reduced cognitive function.
And the results were clear!
With tooth loss, your risk of developing cognitive impairment goes up almost one and a half times higher — and your risk for dementia goes up 1.28 times higher.
Who knew your teeth were so important to your brain?
And, it gets worse…
Because the results were so frightening, the researchers decided to conduct a second analysis. This time, they used a subset of eight studies to find out whether or not the number of teeth you lose makes a difference in your risk of cognitive decline.
And the answer was YES.
Their study showed that for each additional tooth you lose, your risk of cognitive impairment goes up by 1.4 percent and your risk of dementia increases by 1.1 percent.
The protection provided by dentures
However, there is some good news if you’re already living with tooth loss…
The use of dentures may protect against that tooth-related risk for cognitive decline.
In fact, the study showed that adults who were missing teeth were more likely to suffer from cognitive impairment if they didn’t have dentures (23.8%) compared to those with dentures (16.9%).
And once the full analysis was in, the researchers say that the connection between tooth loss and cognitive issues was “not significant” when participants had dentures.
So if you’ve lost teeth, dentures are your friend is keeping your brain and your cognition at its best.
Better oral health for better brain health
So what can you do to keep gum disease and tooth loss at bay to prevent dementia in the future?
- Change your diet – Limit the amount of refined sugars and carbohydrates in your diet that can feed the bacteria that lead to gum disease.
- Try essential oils – Add a drop or two of a certified organic essential oil, like clove or tea tree to your toothpaste when you brush to reduce inflammation and combat bad bacteria. Be sure to spit it out.
- Take gum–healthy supplements – According to registered dental hygienist, Bobbie DelSasso, RDH, BS, Loma Linda University researchers found that certain supplements alone were so powerful at combating the effects of periodontal disease, that the study participants didn’t require any additional dental treatment. The supplements included grape seed extract, CoQ10, echinacea and folic acid.
And of course, always practice good oral hygiene, including brushing and flossing at least twice a day.
One more tip: According to my dental hygienist, the key is to floss first and then brush to sweep away the buildup of materials that can feed bad bacteria between your teeth.
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