Research suggests that taking care of your mouth can lower your risk for stroke.
Dental experts offer their insights on how to improve your oral hygiene and analyze the results. You might not think it matters much how often you floss, but new research suggests that taking care of your teeth and gums is important for your brain's health, too.
Presented at the recent annual meeting of the American Stroke Association, a new study looked into the connection between good oral hygiene and brain function. Forty thousand people without a history of stroke were studied from the UK Biobank. All 105 participants were tested for genetic variants known to increase their risk of tooth decay, tooth loss, or the need for dentures. The time period covered by the screening was from 2014 to 2021.
Damage to the brain's structure and white matter, among other indicators of poor health, were examined in the MRI scan images. (Your brain's white matter is a complex network of nerve fibers that carries messages and information between different parts of your brain and facilitates communication between them. White matter gets its name from the white color of the myelin insulation that surrounds the nerve fibers in the tissue, hence the name.
Unnoticeable symptoms are the hallmark of a silent stroke. The severity of damage caused by a silent stroke was shown to be greater in persons who had a family history of tooth decay, tooth loss, or denture wear. MRI scans revealed an increase in white matter damage of 24% due to this event. People whose dental health was poor overall due to genetic causes also had more structural damage to their brains. The MRI scans showed a 43% increase in structural damage as a result of this deterioration.
Postdoctoral fellow in neurology at Yale University School of Medicine and lead author Cyprien Rivier, M.D., M.S., was quoted in an American Heart Association press release as saying, "Studying oral health is especially important because poor oral health happens frequently and is an easily modifiable risk factor—everyone can effectively improve oral health with minimal time and financial investment." The investigation is complete, and his analysis of the results is as follows. Having bad teeth may have negative effects on your brain. As a result, we need to pay special attention to our dental hygiene because it has far-reaching consequences.
Although promising, more information needs to be acquired, ideally through clinical studies, to prove that boosting dental health in the population will lead to brain health gains.
Do you know the warning signs of poor dental health?
Poor oral health is typically characterized as an imbalance between the health of the teeth, gums, and other tissues in the mouth. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including poor oral hygiene practices, an unhealthy diet, and a lack of access to dental care.
Poor oral health can show up in a number of ways.
Poor oral health can lead to a number of different conditions, including tooth decay and cavities, periodontal disease, gum disease, and even oral cancer. Pain, bleeding gums, swelling gums, loose teeth, bad breath, and visible growths on the teeth or in the mouth are all indications of gum disease. Teeth that are chipped, cracked, or otherwise damaged are another sign. A white tongue or a white filmy appearance on the tongue is another warning indication of poor dental health.
In what ways can maintaining good oral hygiene benefit cognitive function?
The mouth is home to both helpful and harmful germs. She says that the hardening of the arteries, blood clots, and strokes are all connected to oral health issues like plaque buildup, infections, and inflammation caused by damaged teeth. Damaged teeth increase the risk of plaque buildup, infection, and inflammation.
The bacteria that cause gum disease (periodontal disease) can enter the circulation and go to the brain, where they can cause inflammation and alter the brain's protective barrier. As a different but connected issue, this has to be addressed. Inflammation has been linked to cognitive decline through interfering with the brain's ability to function normally. It is one of the ways in which he stresses that poor dental health can increase the risk of getting Alzheimer's disease or another kind of dementia. Stroke and other cardiovascular ailments have also been linked to gum disease, and both of these can have negative effects on brain function.
How can I better care for my teeth?
The following are some of the recommendations our specialists have made in order to help you take better care of your dental health and avoid the potentially disastrous impacts that poor oral health can have on your body and brain.
The state of your mouth health affects every other part of your body. Similar to the rest of your body, your mouth receives a constant supply of oxygenated blood. Harmful germs that arise as a result of poor tooth health can therefore spread to other parts of the body and create health issues. The risk of cognitive decline, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, and even pregnancy gingivitis are all impacted by this, she says.
Hormonal shifts during pregnancy might make your gums more susceptible to plaque, resulting in irritation and bleeding, a disease known as pregnancy gingivitis. Brushing twice a day and flossing once a day can help avoid pregnancy gingivitis.
Good management of gum disease/periodontitis, cavities, and overall oral health care, as well as the management of risk factors like refraining from smoking, will lower inflammatory indicators and so lessen the likelihood of systemic disease progression. Caring for your teeth and gums in a way that keeps your mouth healthy and free of disease it's crucial to your overall health to practice good oral hygiene habits like brushing and flossing your teeth daily, visiting the dentist on a regular basis, and not smoking. This will reduce your risk of developing oral health issues and the complications they can cause for your brain and heart.