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Good dental health may lead to better cognitive health, study finds

Poor oral hygiene can have adverse effects on consumers’ cognitive function

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Photo (c) andresr - Getty Images
A new study conducted by researchers from New York University explored how consumers’ oral hygiene can impact their long-term cognitive health. According to the team, poor dental health can increase the chances of consumers losing their teeth; the more teeth lost, the more likely consumers are to struggle with their cognitive function. 

“Given the staggering number of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia each year, and the opportunity to improve oral health across the lifespan, it’s important to gain a deeper understanding of the connection between poor oral health and cognitive decline,” said researcher Bei Wu, Ph.D. 

Maintaining good oral health

The researchers analyzed more than a dozen earlier studies that included data on more than 34,000 adults, nearly 5,000 of whom were struggling with their cognitive function. The team compared the participants’ oral health with their overall cognitive health to determine how the two were linked. 

Ultimately, the researchers identified a clear link between dental health and cognitive function. As participants lost teeth due to poor oral hygiene, they increased their risk of both developing dementia and struggling with cognitive performance; this association was even stronger when participants lost teeth and didn’t have dentures. 

It’s also important to note that the more teeth the participants lost, the higher their risk was for cognitive impairments. Each missing tooth increased the risk of dementia by more than 1% and the risk of diminished cognitive function by nearly 1.5%. 

“This ‘dose-response’ relationship between the number of missing teeth and risk of diminished cognitive function substantially strengthens the evidence linking tooth loss to cognitive impairment, and provides some evidence that tooth loss may predict cognitive decline,” said researcher Xiang Qi. 

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