Dental Health and Dementia

People who keep their teeth and gums healthy with regular brushing may have a lower risk of developing dementia later in life, according to a U.S. study.

Researchers at the University of California who followed nearly 5,500 elderly people over an 18-year-period found that those who reported brushing their teeth less than once a day were up to 65 percent more likely to develop dementia than those who brushed daily.

The study followed 5,468 men and women who were asked about their dental habits and dental health. Researchers followed up with participants 18 years later through in person interviews as well as analysis of medical records and death certificates.

The research found that people with Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, have more gum disease-related bacteria in their brains than a person without Alzheimer’s. It is thought that gum disease bacteria might get into the brain, causing inflammation and brain damage.


According to United Kingdom’s Alzheimer’s Society, “There are two main types of dental disease – gum (periodontal) disease and tooth decay (dental caries, more commonly known as cavities). Both can cause discomfort or pain and can lead to the development of infection. Both pain and infection can worsen the confusion associated with dementia.”

When a person does start showing signs of dementia, it is important that he/she is monitored, since dementia patients may have a more difficult time caring for himself/herself. Often times, people suffering from this disease may forget or not care to brush their teeth, which can worsen the situation.

Drugs used to treat dementia may cause a dry mouth in some patients, which can have an effect on oral health. Saliva has a cleansing effect on the mouth and teeth. Its absence leads to a buildup of bacteria and food debris, gum disease and dental decay, particularly at the neck of the tooth. Decay in this area weakens the crown of the tooth, and can cause the crown to break off,” according to the U.K.’s Alzheimer’s Society.

Good oral health is not only important for general health, well-being and quality of life, but it is also extremely important for your mental health. Regular dental visits, in addition to properly caring for teeth/dentures, can aid in living a long and productive life.

Shamblott Family Dentistry cares about your dental health and your well-being, located just outside of Minneapolis offering emergency dental appointments, sedation dentistry, general dentistry, family dentistry and other services at the Hopkins-area dental office. Call today to schedule your next cleaning at 952-935-5599.

About Shamblott Family Dentistry: Shamblott Family Dentistry is a family dental practice providing comprehensive dental services to children and adults. Located in the Minneapolis suburb of Hopkins, MN, Shamblott Family Dentistry provides a no fear, no shame approach to treatments for general dentistry, emergency dentistry, sedation dentistry and a variety of other dental needs.