Why going to the dentist can save you DEMENTIA: Patients with gum disease are 23% more likely to have a memory-depriving condition, study shows
- Finnish researchers found that gum disease increases the risk of dementia
- Experts say ‘monitoring and management’ of dental health could help prevent this
- Bacteria in gum disease may trigger an inflammatory response behind Alzheimer’s disease
Going to the dentist can be a chore.
But one study suggests it’s really worth getting regular checkups — because it can help you ward off dementia.
Finnish researchers found that people with gum disease and tooth loss were about a fifth more likely to be affected by the cruel condition.
Experts said it suggested that “monitoring and management” of dental health could be key in preventing the condition.
Experts believe visiting the dentist could help people at risk for dementia avoid the memory-depriving condition
Over the past decade, several studies have uncovered a similar link between poor oral health and dementia.
It has led some researchers to speculate that the condition may be caused by gum disease itself. The same bacteria that cause bleeding gums can reach the brain, where doctors believe it could damage the organ.
But even with the new study, there’s no evidence that poor oral health definitely causes dementia. The Finnish study is purely observational.
The link can actually happen for the opposite reason. People in the earliest stages can forget to brush their teeth, experts say.
An estimated 900,000 people live with dementia in the UK. In the US, the figure is about seven times higher, charities say.
The latest research, in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, collected data from 47 previous studies that delved into the link between cognitive decline, or dementia, and oral health. Most newspapers only looked at people over 65 and tracked their health for less than a decade.
Academics from the University of Eastern Finland in Kuopio looked at articles on periodontitis – a serious form of gum disease.
The condition can cause jawbone loss, gaps under the teeth, and damage the connective tissue that holds the teeth in place.
It can be prevented by brushing teeth to remove plaque before it hardens into tartar, a hard cementitious substance that can only be removed professionally.
dr. Sam Asher and colleagues also looked at articles about tooth loss, a consequence of serious gum disease.
They searched all available numbers, consisting of thousands of people and their medical records, to discover the link.
According to the analysis, people with gum disease and missing teeth were up to 23 percent more likely to have cognitive decline or dementia.
But the team said the quality of the evidence was weak.
In the journal, the authors write: ‘From a clinical perspective, our findings highlight the importance of periodontal health monitoring and management in the context of dementia prevention.
“Evidence available is not yet sufficient to point out clear ways of early identification of at-risk individuals and the most efficient measures to prevent cognitive decline.”
WHAT IS DEMENTIA? THE KILLER DISEASE THAT DEPRIVES SUFFERING OF THEIR MEMORIES
Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a range of neurological disorders
A GLOBAL CARE
Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a range of progressive neurological disorders (affecting the brain) that affect memory, thinking, and behavior.
There are many different forms of dementia, with Alzheimer’s disease being the most common.
Some people may have a combination of dementias.
Regardless of which type is diagnosed, each person will experience their dementia in their own unique way.
Dementia is a global problem, but it is most often seen in wealthier countries, where people are likely to live very old.
HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE INVOLVED?
The Alzheimer’s Society reports that there are more than 900,000 people living with dementia in the UK today. This is expected to increase to 1.6 million by 2040.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, affecting between 50 and 75 percent of diagnosed individuals.
There are an estimated 5.5 million Alzheimer’s patients in the US. A similar percentage increase is expected in the coming years.
As a person gets older, so does the risk of developing dementia.
Diagnoses are improving, but it is believed that many people with dementia still remain undiagnosed.
IS THERE A CURE?
Currently, there is no cure for dementia.
But new drugs can slow progression, and the sooner it’s noticed, the more effective treatments are.
Source: Alzheimer’s Society