By Susan Braden
If you lose too many teeth or get too many cavities, you could lose your mind also, researchers say. Discount dental care could help improve both of those issues without breaking the bank. Studies show that oral inflammation raises the risk of mental decline. Tooth decay and gum disease both introduce inflammatory proteins into the body through the blood stream which could eventually reach the brain.
In one of the longest studies on the topic to date, researchers at Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine compared patient records from 1970-1973 to see if poor oral health would predict the results of a cognitive test. Dr. Elizabeth Krall Kaye found that the risk of scoring poorly on the test rose 8-10% for every tooth lost per decade. Patients with no missing teeth generally performed better on the test.
The subjects enrolled in the study during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Starting in 1993, they returned every three years for cognitive, oral and medical examinations. Subjects took two tests to determine mental ability. One assessed language, recall, calculation, attention, orientation and motor skills. The other asked participants to copy nine geometric designs, some simple and some complex.
“The ability to copy is one of the things people lose as they lose cognitive ability,” Kaye said. Researchers now link the results with patterns they noticed in oral health.
Taking care of the mouth is more than just an oral health interest. This study indicates that it may help improve mental capacity over the years as well. Regular brushing and flossing habits go great lengths to prevent tooth decay and gum disease.
Experts recommend that physicians take note of the oral state of their patients, because according to the study, the health of your mouth can also strongly affect your brain as well. Physicians are encouraged to refer patients to a dentist for regular checkups and cleanings as well. Discount dental prices are often available through dental discount plans, which can make oral health maintenance more accessible.