Poor oral hygiene is a path to gum disease and tooth loss, and an increasing amount of evidence suggests there may also be a link to cognitive decline. One example, published October 2021 in JAMDA: The Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine, evaluated 14 studies focusing on tooth loss and cognitive impairment among 34,000 older adults. People in the study with more tooth loss had, on average, a 48% greater risk for developing cognitive impairment and a 28% greater risk for dementia, compared with people who had less tooth loss. There was no significant difference in risk for dementia among people who had dentures (possibly because they can chew foods and maintain nutrition, the researchers speculated). The researchers say mouth bacteria may play a role in brain inflammation, which might promote cognitive problems. The takeaway: Brush your teeth twice a day, floss every day, and see your dentist regularly. It may also protect your brain.
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