Let’s play a quick round of word association. I’ll say a phrase, and we’ll see what the very FIRST thing you think of is.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say “teeth” was NOT the first thought that popped into your head. But it turns out they probably should be. Because if your teeth and gums are a bit worse for wear, there’s a good chance your brain is suffering too.
In fact, a new study has found if those teeth are popping out of your skull, your odds of cognitive decline and dementia can jump by nearly a staggering 50 percent.
And, surprisingly, it’s not just because the same diet that rots teeth can also wipe out brain cells. There’s more to it than that.
But there’s also a simple dementia-defying solution. And it’s one you can put to work with little effort and almost no money.
You can even start the moment you’re done reading this. Because there’s a good chance you already have everything you need to send your own dementia risk plummeting.
Study highlights TEETH-BRAIN connection
When was the last time you flossed? You can be honest. No judgments here.
Besides, if you don’t have the best habits in that department, you’re hardly alone. Sixty percent of Americans don’t floss daily. And those are just the ones who admit it, of course.
Even worse, 20 percent admit they NEVER floss. While 30 percent say, they don’t even brush daily. (Okay, that last one might deserve just a little judgment.)
The new study makes it crystal clear why it’s critical to step it up. Good oral hygiene holds the key to protecting your memory and staving off dementia as you grow older.
If your pearly whites sparkle when you smile, you have a great shot at reaching your 80s or 90s sharp as a tack. But if your teeth are falling out? You could have some challenges ahead.
Folks with the most missing teeth have a 48 percent higher risk of cognitive impairment. Plus, according to the new study, they have a 28 percent higher risk of full-blown dementia.
But wait, this gets even MORE interesting.
Slash your dementia risk with this “tooth trick”
Folks who have missing teeth but also have dentures DON’T see that same bump in dementia risk.
There are likely two reasons for that:
- People with missing teeth and no dentures can struggle to eat a normal diet. They could suffer from serious nutritional deficiencies as a result. And that, in turn, leads to a decline in brain function and a jump in dementia risk.
- People with dentures simply get better dental care. And better dental care means better overall oral hygiene, which we now know is just as crucial for your brain as for your teeth.
Studies have found the same germs behind gum disease—a leading cause of tooth loss—can also cause inflammation, and not just in the gums. Those ugly bugs can use your bloodstream like a superhighway to move around your body, causing inflammation all over.
Emerging evidence suggests these same germs can even get into the brain itself, causing inflammation and damage. And that, of course, could lead to cognitive decline and dementia.
In other words, don’t be part of that 60 percent who skip flossing. And definitely don’t be part of the 30 percent who don’t brush.
Floss and brush daily, ideally after meals. But be sure to choose a floss without wax to avoid cancer-linked chemicals. (If you missed that shocking story, click here to catch up.)
If you’re looking for fluoride-free toothpaste, which I recommend, I prefer the baking soda and peroxide ones. Or, if you’re a do-it-yourself type, you can mix up some of your own. You’ll find 10 recipes to inspire you right here in this Healthier Talk classic.
If you have bleeding gums or missing teeth, make sure you see a dentist. Doing so could help lower your dementia risk. And if you haven’t been in for a cleaning in a while, stop putting it off. Research finds visiting the dentist during the pandemic isn’t high risk.