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Loss of Teeth Linked to Dementia?

dementia and the loss of teethDementia is a condition that affects millions of older Americans per year. Those with dementia exhibit symptoms of forgetfulness, inability to remember long-term information, disorientation, disorganization, helplessness, and more. For those who have loved ones with dementia or who are experiencing dementia themselves, there are obviously certain questions that arise regarding the root cause of dementia. For some medical professionals who have conducted research in the area, their studies are showing that there may be a link between dementia and the loss of teeth. That is to say – dementia may actually be caused by tooth loss.

Gum Disease

The first link that researchers have found is that patients with dementia had tooth loss caused by gum disease, or what is better known as gingivitis. Gum disease that develops and is not treated will be unable to support the tooth that is connected to the bridge below. When there is a lack of support, the tooth doesn’t hold up well and falls out. With that, a bacterium from the hole and from the gum disease has been found to travel to not only vital organs in the body, but also to the brain. The theory developed is that the exposure to bacteria weakens immune responses, which leads nerve cells to die. Through this theory, it is fair to suggest that seeking medical attention when necessary is not only a long term investment in your dental health, but also your mental health.

An Early Sign of Memory Issues

Gum disease and lost teeth can be genetic, but they can also be due to early signs of dementia. Those who develop these dental issues may do so not through their unwillingness to care for their teeth, but due to their forgetfulness. Since these dental problems take years to develop, this forgetfulness most likely started at an earlier age, thus signifying signs of early dementia. If you or a loved one has dental problems, the best thing to do is to assess the cause and if it is determined that it is caused by forgetfulness, then it is safe to say that dementia may be something that should be looked into.

Prevent Dementia through Proper Dental Care

Dementia is one of the most challenging and difficult diseases to handle for both the individual and surrounding friends and family. If the theory is true, then it is clear that dementia can be prevented when it is caused by gum disease. In this case, the most effective preventative measure that you can take is to maintain your dental health through regular visits to your dentist. During your yearly cleanings, your dentist will be able to determine what the most useful method of treatment and what their suggestion is for moving forward. Regardless of the outcome, the fact that you sought out dental care is already the right step in the best direction possible if it prevents you from developing dementia. You’ll not only feel better, but so will those around you.  

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