The Surprising Connection Between Dementia and Oral Health

Every three minutes, someone in the UK develops dementia – it’s one of the biggest health challenges of our time. Thankfully, huge resources are being put into research, early diagnosis and treatment, so as time passes the outlook will hopefully be more positive.

As more research is being conducted, connections between seemingly unrelated aspects of our well-being continue to emerge, often surprising both researchers and healthcare professionals alike. 

In our latest blog we discuss some of the potential links between dementia and oral health.

Want to discuss your dental needs? Get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.

The Link Between Dementia and Oral Health

While we typically think of dementia as a condition primarily affecting cognitive functions, recent research has shed light on the potential role oral health plays in its development and progression.

Dementia is a broad term encompassing various conditions characterised by a decline in cognitive abilities that interfere with daily life. 

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, but there are several others, including vascular dementia and Lewy body dementia. 

Oral health refers to the condition of the mouth, including the teeth, gums and associated soft tissues. Maintaining good oral hygiene is crucial not only for preventing cavities and gum disease but also for preserving overall health. However, the relationship between oral health and dementia extends beyond mere hygiene practices.

Research has revealed intriguing connections between periodontal disease (gum disease) and dementia. Periodontal disease is a chronic inflammatory condition caused by bacteria in plaque, leading to the destruction of the gums and supporting structures of the teeth. 

Studies have suggested that the inflammation associated with periodontal disease may contribute to the development or progression of dementia. The bacteria associated with periodontal disease can enter the bloodstream and potentially reach the brain, where they may exacerbate existing neuroinflammation or contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

The oral health-dementia connection extends beyond periodontal disease. Tooth loss, often a consequence of untreated gum disease or other oral health issues, has also been associated with an increased risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Several theories have been proposed to explain this association, including the potential impact of tooth loss on dietary habits, nutrition and social interactions, all of which can influence cognitive health.

In addition, poor oral health may indirectly impact dementia risk factors, such as cardiovascular health too.

Want to discuss your dental needs? Get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.

Closing Thoughts

It is a complex area but understanding the link between dementia and oral health opens up new avenues for prevention and intervention. Encouraging regular dental check-ups, practising good oral hygiene habits and addressing oral health issues promptly may not only preserve dental health but also contribute to cognitive well-being.

The connection between dementia and oral health highlights the intricate interplay between different aspects of our health. As researchers continue to unravel the complexities of these relationships, the importance of comprehensive healthcare approaches that consider the whole person becomes increasingly apparent.

At The Waterside Dental Clinic we’re always here to support you on your journey to a healthier mouth and a healthier, happier life. We are currently welcoming new patients and offering ½ price initial consultations. We would love to welcome you to our clinic, book your consultation today.

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