It’s a well-known fact among our practitioners at the best dentist in Surrey BC that oral health impacts your overall health. Now, a team of British scientists has turned up evidence that proves there’s a connection between tooth loss and decreasing cognitive abilities. When the team analyzed the results of 14 studies, they discovered that people who had at least one missing tooth were 1.48 times more likely to have cognitive decline and 1.28 times more likely to develop full-blown dementia.
The studies show several reasons for this link between oral health and dementia, including:
People who have missing teeth have more difficulty chewing their food. This situation often contributes to poor nutritional choices because foods that are easy to eat often contain fewer nutrients than, say, fresh fruits and vegetables and quality protein sources. For seniors, subsisting on soft foods such as bread, rice, potatoes, and soups may be filling. Still, these foods won’t supply their bodies with the vitamins and minerals needed to maintain a healthy brain.
Inadequate Dental Care
Most patients who experience tooth loss take immediate steps to have their teeth restored. Partial and complete dentures, crowns, bridges, and a dental implant procedure are all ways to replace even a single missing tooth. Suppose someone avoids regular visits to the best dentist in Surrey, BC, during which we would likely recommend restoration. In that case, the chances are good they have other dental issues such as gum disease and cavities. These problems can impact the entire body leaving it vulnerable to opportunistic medical conditions like heart disease and stroke, which affect the transport of oxygen to the brain.
People who maintain meaningful and productive activities with others not only live longer, they also have better moods and a sense of purpose, according to the American National Institute on Aging. These activities help maintain well-being and improve cognitive function. We often find that patients who don’t take care of their dental health, including the restoration of missing teeth, are less social. They don’t spend much time mixing with people outside their family and rarely go out to social or public events. Whether this is caused by a lack of self-confidence stemming from poor dentition or the lack of dental care is driven by a reduced need to maintain appearances, the end result is the same.
Lower Financial Status
In Canada, dental restoration can be an expensive process for patients without insurance. People who have lower or fixed incomes may not be able to afford dental care beyond the basics. Studies show that lower education and income levels are also associated with increased cognitive decline. Both of these can also be reasons why patients don’t get the dental restorations they need. This factor strengthens the link between oral health and dementia related to the lack of funds or information.
Addressing the Problem
While extensive research is being done into the causes and treatment of dementia in seniors, these facts show that you can take steps to prevent at least some of the circumstances leading to cognitive decline. Make sure you—or your loved ones—get the dental care needed with regular, bi-annual checkups and teeth cleanings. Maintain a healthy oral hygiene regime to help avoid gum disease and cavities leading to tooth loss. Consider dentures, bridges, or one of several types of dental implants to replace any missing teeth.
For more information on how to maintain your dental health into your senior years and avoid the problems associated with tooth loss, please click here to schedule an appointment with the best dentist in Surrey, BC.