Almost 5,500 elderly people were followed over an 18-year-period by researchers at the University of California. Those patients who brushed their teeth less than once a day were up to 65% more likely to develop dementia than those patients who brushed their teeth daily. The study, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society was led by Annlia Paganini-Hill who said “not only does the state of your mind predict what kind of oral health habits you practice, it may be that your oral health habits influence whether or not you get dementia.”  According to Paganini-Hill, it is believed that gum disease bacteria may get into the brain causing inflammation and brain damage.

At the study’s onset the patients answered questions about the condition of their teeth as well as their dental health habits.  All were dementia free.  Eighteen years later at the follow-up interviews, it was determined that 1,145 of the original patients had been diagnosed with dementia. Amber Watts, a dementia specialist at the University of Kansas believes head injury and malnutrition are also significant causes of tooth loss in adults, and either can also raise the risk of dementia.  “I would be reluctant to draw the conclusion that brushing your teeth would definitely prevent you from getting Alzheimer’s disease,” she said……… Reuters Health   8/21/12

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