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The Link Between Oral Health and Brain Health

In our quest for overall well-being, we often focus on exercise, nutrition and mental health, but could we be overlooking a crucial aspect: Oral Health?

A groundbreaking study published in the July 5, 2023, online issue of Neurology suggests that the state of our teeth and gums may have profound implications for our brain health. The study, conducted by researchers from Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan, sheds light on the connection between poor dental health and a decline in brain volume, particularly in the hippocampus - a region vital for memory and implicated in Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr. Satoshi Yamaguchi, the lead author of the study, emphasizes the significance of their findings: "Tooth loss and gum disease are very common, so evaluating a potential link with dementia is incredibly important. Our study found that these conditions may play a role in the health of the brain area that controls thinking and memory, giving people another reason to take better care of their teeth."

The research involved 172 participants with an average age of 67, who initially had no memory problems. They underwent dental exams, memory tests, and brain scans to assess hippocampal volume at the beginning of the study and four years later. The results were striking: both gum disease and tooth loss were associated with changes in the left hippocampus of the brain. For individuals with mild gum disease, having fewer teeth was linked to a faster rate of brain shrinkage, while those with severe gum disease showed the opposite trend - more teeth were associated with accelerated brain shrinkage.

Mild gum disease involves probing depths of three or four millimeters in several areas, while severe gum disease involves probing depths of five or six millimeters in several areas as well as more bone loss and can cause teeth to become loose and eventually fall out. Moreover, the study revealed that the impact on brain health was significant. After adjusting for age, the loss of one tooth in individuals with mild gum disease was equivalent to nearly one year of brain aging. Conversely, for those with severe gum disease, each additional tooth lost accelerated brain shrinkage by 1.3 years.

"These results highlight the importance of preserving dental health, not just retaining teeth," Dr. Yamaguchi explains. "Controlling the progression of gum disease through regular dental visits is crucial, and teeth with severe gum disease may need to be extracted and replaced with appropriate prosthetic devices."

However, it's essential to acknowledge the limitations of the study. Conducted in one region of Japan, the findings may not be universally applicable. Additionally, further research with larger and more diverse groups of participants is warranted to confirm and expand upon these results.

The implications of this research are profound. It underscores the intricate connections between different aspects of our oral and overall health. So, do your brain a favor and book today an appointment for your regular hygiene visit.

By The Lake Dental offers:

✅ +10 years caring for our community’s oral health needs

✅ A Platinum Invisalign dental office

✅ Direct billing to benefit provider

✅ Cutting-edge technology

✅ Full service family care

✅ Concierge experience

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Call us today: Ajax 905-428-2111, Highland Creek 416-284-8282.


By The Lake Dental is a full service – ‘one-stop shop’ - dental experience, where you and your family will have your dream smile come true. Whatever your dental needs are, we will deliver the right treatment plan for you. For us every smile does matter and our dental team is able to take care of and transform every single one of them.




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