How Tooth Loss Can Affect Your Memory
Losing teeth can be a common problem for aging adults, but memory loss is also associated with aging. Unfortunately, the two may be linked. According to recent research, teeth provide valuable sensory information to the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain responsible for making new memories and retrieving older memories.
This study, published in the European Journal of Oral Sciences, found that the number of teeth a person has affects their performance on memory tests. Almost 300 people between the ages of 55 and 80 in Sweden and Norway were involved. Participants had about 22 natural teeth remaining, whereas the full dentition is 32 teeth. Almost three out of four of participants were missing molars. Researchers explained that the brain sends fewer signals from the loss of these teeth and can result in reduced memory. However, they also explained that the process of chewing stimulates blood flow to the brain. As patients with missing teeth tend to choose foods that are easy to eat and require little chewing, their brains may not be getting the blood flow they need to stay healthy.
Another study performed at the University of California had similar results. After evaluating 5,500 older adults for 18 years, they found that poor brushing habits could increase the risk of dementia up to 65 percent compared to those who brushed three times a day.
Good dental habits can help you save your teeth and reduce the risk of tooth loss. Brush after meals, floss daily and visit us at least twice a year to ensure a healthy dental up keeping. If you have already lost teeth, look into replacing them with dental implants, as they may help maintain some sensory input and protect brain health. Call us today to find out more or to schedule your appointment.
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