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Can daily brushing reduce dementia risk?

Aug 30, 2012


Photo Source: Calgary Sun

Is neglecting the brushing of their teeth a sign of dementia in seniors? Or can neglecting daily brushing cause dementia? A West Coast study indicates that the habit of brushing daily may do more than clean your teeth and help reduce oral bacteria.

Researchers at the University of Southern California followed almost 5,500 residents of a Californian retirement community over an 18-year-old period and found that senior women who brush less than once a day were up to 65 percent more likely to develop dementia than those brushing daily.

“Not only does the state of your mind predict what kind of oral habits you practice, it may be that your oral health habits influence whether or not you get dementia,” said Annlia Paganini-Hill, Professor of Research at the Keck School of Medicine, USC.

She added that some studies have revealed that people with Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, have more gum disease-related bacteria in their brains than those without Alzheimer’s.

In the most recent study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, the USC team followed residents of a Californian retirement community from 1992 to 2010. The study subjects were white, well-educated and relatively affluent with an average age of 81. All were free of dementia at the study’s outset and answered questions about the condition of their teeth, whether they wore dentures and their general dental habits.

Eighteen years later researchers utilizing interviews, medical records and in some cases death certificates confirmed that 1,145 of the original group of 5,468 had been diagnosed with dementia.

Findings for women Twenty-one women who said they brushed less than once daily had dementia by 2010 out of 78 originally questioned. The study revealed that the group that brushed less was 65 percent more likely to develop dementia than those who brushed at least once a day.

Findings for men One in six irregular brushers developed the disease, a 22 percent difference from regular brushers. Paganini-Hill said statistically the men’s study was so small the results could have been due to chance.

Admittedly the USC study has limitations.  The study subjects were not given dental exams at the start of the study and malnutrition and head injuries can also increase the risk of dementia.

Sources: Business World Online


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