Poor Oral Health May Lead to a Decline in Brain Health

Poor Oral Health May Lead to a Decline in Brain Health

  • Researchers say poor dental health, including cavities and missing teeth, can lead to a decline in brain health.
  • They note their findings are the latest confirmation that poor oral health can cause health issues elsewhere in the body.
  • Experts say it’s important to make regular visits to the dentist as well as practice good oral hygiene at home.

New research indicates that markers of bad oral health — including gum disease, missing teeth, and plaque buildup — are associated with an increased risk of stroke.

The preliminary researchTrusted Source, which hasn’t been published yet in a peer-reviewed journal, is being presented next week at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke ConferenceTrusted Source in Dallas.

Researchers say their study adds to the current body of knowledge surrounding the link between poor oral health and negative health outcomes elsewhere in the body.

Dr. Cyprien Rivier, a study author and a postdoctoral fellow in neurology at the Yale School of Medicine in Connecticut, told Healthline that while previous research linked poor dental health to heart disease risk factors, the new research evaluated the relationship between oral health and brain health.

“Our study expands existing evidence showing the adverse effects of oral health on cardiovascular health by extending it to brain health,” he explained. “The core message is that we need to be extra careful with our oral hygiene because it has implications far beyond the mouth.”

Rivier said the next avenues for research include replicating these findings in different populations.

“If this research is confirmed, taking measures to improve oral health could lead to significant benefits at a population level,” he said. “We also hope that our work will encourage future research on the effects of oral health on other organs and conditions.”

Rivier also noted that the study is preliminary and more evidence — ideally through clinical trials — needs to be gathered in order to show that improving oral health leads to brain health benefits.

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