We’re not going to circle around the issue: research shows that poor oral health can lead to a decline in brain health. This should come as no surprise since every part of our health contributes to the state of our overall general health. The more that we can do to keep our brain health as optimal as possible, the longer and more enjoyable a life we should live!
The Potential Impact of Cavities, Missing Teeth & Dentures
According to Dr. Cyprien Rivier of the Yale School of Medicine, existing evidence shows “the adverse effects of oral health on cardiovascular health by extending it to brain health,” he explained. “The core message is that we need to be extra careful with our oral hygiene because it has implications far beyond the mouth.”
Here’s more insight into what Rivier and his colleagues found throughout their research:
- People with a genetic predisposition to cavities and missing teeth were more likely to have brain health issues.
- After analyzing 40,000 adults with an average age of 57 in the U.K., researchers said they found that people with poor oral health were more likely to have accumulated damage in the brain’s white matter.
This was a preliminary study and still requires more evidence but, regardless, it’s critical that you take care of your oral health as it’s linked to so many other facets of health.
Oral Health Extends Far Beyond the Mouth
Board member of the American Academy for Oral Systemic Health (AAOSH) Dr. Alan Reisinger reports that poor oral health is associated with negative health outcomes throughout the body. He goes on to explain that “one possible reason is that when the body fights the bacteria that cause gum disease, it raises inflammation throughout the body…This systemic inflammation can increase a person’s risk for a host of problems including heart attacks, strokes, dementia, pregnancy complications, and certain cancers.”
For health concerns of this caliber, we see strong collaboration between the dental and medical communities to gain a deeper understanding of the important link between oral health and systemic health. According to Reisinger, this is why a “growing number of dental and medical professionals [are] participating in organizations like the American Academy for Oral Systemic Health and the Integrative Dental Medicine Scholar Society”.
Why It’s Important to Keep Chronic Medical Problems Under Control
Dental problems in particular tend to develop slowly over time. When left untreated, this can lead to other health problems down the line. Oral care is extremely important because research shows that teeth are only designed to last between 40-50 years and the current average human lifespan is around 76 years old; close to double the life expectancy of your original teeth. Karen Potter, DDS (an endodontist in San Clemente, CA) simplifies a look at the importance of two types of oral care:
“There are two types of oral care: at home and in the dental office. At-home care is important because it keeps the bacterial load down on a daily basis. Visits to the dentist are important because the hygienist can scrape off bacteria that have become hard and can’t be removed with a toothbrush or floss.”
As always, we will tout the importance of maintaining a regular oral hygiene routine for the many days of the year that you’re not visiting with us. And, of course, don’t hesitate to contact us with any dental health questions or concerns!