Keeping those pearly whites clean affects more than oral and heart health. Recent studies have shown that oral hygiene could also have an impact on brain and cognitive function. Research out of King’s College London and University of Southampton shows that “gum disease may be associated with faster cognitive decline among those with early Alzheimer’s disease.”
The study assessed 59 patients who has mild to moderate gum disease over six months. While one team measured their cognitive abilities and inflammatory symptoms on the brain, a team of dental hygienists kept an eye on participants’ oral health. When researchers followed up at the end of the six-month period, those who had gum disease had a six-fold cognitive decline.
“Our study was small and lasted for six months so further trials need to be carried out to develop these results,” said Professor Clive Holmes of University of Southampton. “However, if there is a direct relationship between periodontitis and cognitive decline, as this current study suggests, then treatment of gum disease might be a possible treatment option for Alzheimer’s.”
Although it is tough to tell whether gum disease is the chicken or the egg in this instance, it is another case for keeping mouths clean. Gum disease has also been linked to breast cancer, colorectal cancer and heart problems although a great deal of evidence is inconclusive. The overall lesson is to keep brushing and flossing those teeth to maintain good oral health and self-care.