A University of California study found that women who brushed their teeth less than once a day had a 65 percent greater likelihood of developing dementia in the following 18 years than women who brushed their teeth at least once a day.
The study followed 5,468 men and women with an average age of 81 at the study’s onset. The participants were residents of a California retirement community, where most residents are white, well-educated, and affluent. Participants 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.
Researchers found that women who brushed their teeth less than once a day had a higher likelihood of dementia, but this correlation was not statistically significant in men. However, when compared to men who still had their natural teeth, men who wore dentures were almost twice as likely to develop dementia over the study period. This effect was not seen in women. Researchers are unsure why men and women are affected differently, but they hypothesize that women may wear their dentures more often or visit the dentist more frequently than men.
Although the research does not prove a cause and effect relationship, the research indicates a new risk factor that should be studied further. "It's nice if this relationship holds true as there's something people can do (to reduce their chances of developing dementia)," said Annlia Paganini-Hill, who led the study. "First, practice good oral health habits to prevent tooth loss and oral diseases. And second, if you do lose your teeth, wear dentures."
Read more about the study: Dentition, Dental Health Habits, and Dementia: The Leisure World Cohort Study
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