People who keep
their teeth and gums healthy with regular brushing may have a lower risk
of developing dementia. Researchers followed close
to 5,500 elderly people over an 18-year period. Women who reported
brushing their teeth less than once a day were up to 65 percent more
likely to develop dementia. Inflammation from gum disease-related bacteria impacts heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Gum disease bacteria might get into the brain causing inflammation and brain damage, researchers told Reuters Health.
Participants ranged in age from 52 to
105, with an average age of 81. All
were free of dementia at the outset, when they answered questions about
their dental health habits, the condition of their teeth and whether
they wore dentures.
Researchers followed-up 18 years later, using interviews, medical
records and in some cases death certificates to determine that 1,145 of
the original group had been diagnosed with dementia. Men were less affected. The less frequent brushers were 22 percent more likely to have
dementia than those who did brush daily. Statistically, however, the
effect was so small it could have been due to chance, the researchers
There was a significant
difference seen between men who had all, or at least most, of their
teeth, or who wore dentures, and those who didn't - the latter group
were almost twice as likely to develop dementia.
That effect was not seen in women.
So, brush your teeth, floss, gargle, use one of those tongue doohickeys and see your dentists regularly.