How Healthy Are Your Teeth and Gums? It Matters for Your. Brain Health

The scientific support for the connection between GI health and systemic health of the heart and brain is growing rapidly. The GI tract begins in the mouth and oral health as a factor in overall health is well supported. More data is need.

Although tooth loss and periodontitis have been considered risk factors for Alzheimer's disease. A new study aimed to clarify an association between the number of teeth present (NTP) and hippocampal (region of the brain) atrophy dependent on the severity of periodontitis in a late middle-aged and older adult population.

 

STUDY METHODS

This study included community-dwelling individuals aged ≥55 years who had no cognitive decline and had undergone brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and oral and systemic data collection twice at 4-year intervals. Hippocampal brain volumes were obtained from MRIs by automated region-of-interest analysis.

The mean periodontal probing depth (mean PD) was used as a measure of periodontitis. Multiple regression analysis was performed with the annual symmetric percentage change (SPC) of the hippocampal volume as the dependent variable and including an interaction term between NTP and mean PD as the independent variable.

STUDY RESULTS

The data of 172 participants were analyzed. The qualitative interaction between NTP and mean PD was significant for the annual SPC in the left hippocampus.

The regression coefficient of the NTP on annual SPC in the left hippocampus region of the brain was negative at the high-level PD.

DISCUSSION

In a late middle-aged and older cohort, fewer teeth were associated with a faster rate of left hippocampal atrophy in patients with mild periodontitis, whereas having more teeth was associated with a faster rate of atrophy in those with severe periodontitis.

The importance of keeping teeth and gums healthy is imperative for optimal brain aging. Similar data for the importance of healthy teeth and gums for cardiovascular and sexual health has also been reported recently.

A lot of individuals are off track with routine dental cleanings since the pandemic and resuming regular cleanings and daily hygiene habits is recommended.

Author
Dr. Joel Kahn

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