Good Oral Health Habits May Cut Risk of Developing Dementia

Practicing good oral health habits could possibly reduce a person’s risk of dementia in later years, according to a University of California study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

The study, conducted over the course of 18 years, followed 5,468 adults with no previous diagnosis of dementia and a median age of 81. Researchers determined that participants who reported brushing their teeth less than once per day had up to a 65 percent greater risk of developing dementia than those who brushed three times daily.

Results indicated that men who had impaired ability to chew and who did not wear dentures had a 91 percent greater risk of dementia than those who had a certain number of their own teeth remaining and who could chew. Women had a less significant similar risk.

The study, led by researcher Annlia Paganini-Hill, focused on residents of Leisure World, a Laguna Hills, Calif., retirement community, and measured their oral health habits between 1992 and 2010. They were questioned about their number of natural teeth, dentures, number of dental visits and oral health habits.

Researcher assessed dementia status based on in-person evaluations, hospital records, questionnaires and death certificates.

The ADA has information resources on oral health care according to a person’s age on its consumer information website

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This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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Common Conditions For ADULTS 55+

  • Gum disease
    This potentially serious condition occurs when the gum tissues surrounding teeth become infected because of a buildup of plaque on the teeth and gums. Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease and is recognizable by swollen, red or bleeding gums. Gum disease is a concern for older adults for a number of reasons, including plaque building up on teeth and gums from not developing proper oral health care habits earlier in life.

  • Tooth or root decay
    Even at 55-plus years, adults can still develop tooth or root decay if gum recession has occurred. It is important for older adults to effectively clean the gums, the teeth and exposed root surfaces to remove dental plaque and food debris.

  • Sensitive teeth
    At some point, we've all tossed back a nice, cold glass of water only to grimace at that sharp, tingling sensation in our teeth. A number of factors cause tooth sensitivity, including brushing too aggressively with a hard-bristled toothbrush, worn tooth enamel, and a cracked or fractured tooth.