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Mind Matters: How A Healthy Smile Preserves Your Memory

March 5, 2024

Filed under: Uncategorized — drschaffeld @ 3:08 pm
Older man touching his forehead while the back of his head fractures artistically

You probably already know that brushing and flossing your teeth twice daily is a simple way to prevent dental problems like gum disease and tooth decay. Did you know, however, that it also helps you retain your memories? A study shared in 2023 revealed a connection between oral issues and deterioration in certain areas of the brain that impact cognitive functions. Keep reading to learn more about it!

Does My Oral Health Affect My Brain?

When you consider factors that can contribute to a healthy brain, the status of your smile probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. Although at first glance you might think there’s no obvious relationship between the two, recent scientific studies have proven otherwise. Scientists have completed experiments that demonstrated a correlation between a person’s gum condition, tooth loss, and damage to parts of the brain associated with memory retention.

How Does My Dental Well-Being Impact My Brain?

Researchers have learned that there’s a connection between the number of teeth someone has, the extent of gum disease they’ve developed, and changes to their brain structure.

One case study involved 172 people averaging 67 years old who didn’t have memory issues when they began the experiment. They all underwent initial dental exams and memory tests to determine their oral health and cognitive function and then had the same measurements taken four years later.

When scientists compared the number of teeth lost and the probing depth of participants’ gums to their brain scans, they found that people with gum disease showed a quicker rate of shrinkage in the left hippocampus. The more severe the problems, the faster this area deteriorated. For those with mild gum disease, the increase in the rate of damage due to one less tooth equated to nearly a year of brain aging. That rate increased to 1.3 years worth of shrinkage for those with more advanced periodontal disease.

Because this part of the brain is associated with memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease, they concluded that caring for your teeth properly can help you retain better cognitive function.

How Can I Prevent Gum Disease?

A consistent at-home oral hygiene routine is essential to preventing periodontal disease because it regularly removes bacteria and plaque buildup from your teeth and gumline. It’s also important to visit your dentist every 6 months for a professional checkup and cleaning. Early signs of gum disease are notoriously easy to miss because there aren’t always visible symptoms until it has progressed. Your dentist, however, knows what to look for and can help address any areas of concern before they get worse.

By practicing positive at-home hygiene habits and regularly visiting your dentist, you can preserve both your oral and mental well-being!

About the Author

Dr. Tyler Schaffeld has more than a decade of experience helping patients improve the quality of their daily lives by enhancing their dental health. He graduated first in his class with a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry from Central Washington University before earning his Doctor of Dental Medicine from the Oregon Health and Science University. Today, he stays on top of the latest advancements in dental technology and techniques so you’re sure to receive top-quality treatments. If you’re worried about gum disease or would like to schedule your next checkup, you’re welcome to request an appointment on the website or by calling (541) 426-3783.

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