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How Does Dental Health Impact My Brain?

October 17, 2023

Filed under: Uncategorized — mysouthridge @ 4:32 pm
Woman with curly hair and black glasses smiling and pointing to a model brain she's holding in her other hand

One obvious benefit of a healthy oral hygiene routine is a happy, beautiful smile, but did you know that it also contributes to your brain’s well-being? Many people are unaware that recent scientific studies have linked dental problems with other concerning conditions. Fortunately, something as simple as a checkup with your dentist gives them the opportunity to catch and mend areas of concern before they have a chance to progress or spread. Keep reading to learn about two serious circumstances that have been linked to dental issues!

Condition #1: Stroke

The American Stroke Association has shared that strokes are the number 5 cause of death and the leading cause of disability in the United States. They occur when part of the brain doesn’t get the oxygen and blood supply it needs because of a blockage or bleeding. Unfortunately, it’s also been tied to gum disease.

Between the years 2014 and 2021, an experiment was conducted in which 40,000 adults without a history of stroke were screened for over 100 genetic components that are linked with certain dental issues, like cavities or losing teeth. They also had their brains evaluated and recorded on MRI images which measured unhealthy white matter in the brain.

Unfortunately, the results demonstrated that those who were genetically predisposed to tooth decay and lost teeth showed a 24% growth in the amount of white matter. They also found a 43% increase in damage to the microstructure of the brain. That means that those with oral disease are more likely to experience stroke and related complications.

Condition #2: Alzheimer’s Disease

Another study done in the summer of 2023 was reported in an online issue of the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. It established evidence that gum disease and tooth loss are also associated with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

The experiment consisted of benchmarking individual’s oral health and memory tests at the start of the study and comparing it to measurements at the end of the study. First, individuals were given dental exams that included counting the number of their teeth, which they also did at the end of the study. They also had their gum depth measured because receding gums are symptomatic of gum disease.

Their brains were also scanned in order to measure the size of their hippocampus, which is associated with memories and learning. Alzheimer’s is known to impact this area of the brain as it destroys neurons, resulting in the symptoms we associate with the illness.

Researchers discovered that individuals with higher rates of gum disease and fewer teeth had a hippocampus that shrank faster than those with healthy mouths. They established that each additional missing tooth equated to almost one year of brain aging. Those with advanced gum disease showed an even faster rate of brain damage with 1.3 years of aging associated with each lost tooth.

Fortunately, you can keep your teeth and gums in tip-top shape by brushing and flossing them twice every day to reduce your chances of developing such serious problems!

About the Practice

At South Ridge Dental, you’ll get personalized and proactive dental care based on prevention. Our dedicated team takes pride in giving patients healthy smiles now that avoid the need for additional procedures or treatments in the future. You and the entire family will feel right at home with our friendly staff, who are happy to help you schedule your next appointment. Feel free to contact us on the website or by calling (402) 423-1616.

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