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Brushing for Brainpower: The Oral Health and Memory Connection

February 9, 2024

Filed under: Uncategorized — dr_resnick @ 8:53 pm
An older woman at the dentist for better oral health

As science advances in dentistry, many dental professionals are learning about the importance of their work beyond teeth and gums. In fact, new research suggests that maintaining good oral hygiene could also be crucial for preserving your memory! This surprising connection between oral health and brain power is yet another reason for advocating for excellent oral hygiene.

If you’re curious how brushing your teeth and embracing preventive dentistry translates to better cognitive function, continue reading.

The Link Between Oral Health and Memory

Studies by the American Academy of Neurology have revealed that poor oral health may increase the risk of cognitive decline. Specifically, they looked at how the bacteria from gum disease may contribute to triggering Alzheimer’s disease.

Their studies showed that these bacteria can migrate from the mouth to the brain through your bloodstream. Once there, it can cause the formation of harmful chemicals that slow brain responses or stop them altogether.

Gum Disease and the Hippocampus

The hippocampus is the portion of the brain that deals with memories and is closely tied with Alzheimer’s disease. Scientists suspect that harmful oral bacteria are a factor in hippocampus shrinkage which is a major sign of Alzheimer’s. However, more studies are needed to prove this suspicion as all they have is an association between the two.

What Can You Do to Prevent Oral Bacteria?

Even without definitive answers to questions about the link between oral health and cognitive decline, strong evidence is enough to act! Here are some ways to decrease the bad oral bacteria in your mouth:

  • Brush Twice Daily: Brushing your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste helps remove plaque and bacteria that can lead to gum disease and tooth decay.
  • Floss Daily: Flossing between your teeth and along the gum line removes food particles and plaque buildup, reducing the risk of gum inflammation and periodontal disease.
  • Attend Regular Dental Checkups: Schedule routine dental exams and cleanings every six months to check your oral health and address any issues before they get worse.
  • Stay Hydrated: Drinking plenty of water throughout the day helps keep your mouth hydrated and washes away food particles and bacteria that can lead to dental problems.
  • Avoid Tobacco and Excessive Alcohol: Smoking and heavy drinking have been linked to gum disease, so it’s best to avoid or limit these habits.
  • Manage Stress: Stress can weaken the immune system and increase inflammation. Try to practice stress-reduction techniques like meditation, deep breathing exercises, or yoga to promote better health.

By prioritizing good oral hygiene habits and seeking regular dental care, you can help reduce the risk of gum disease and tooth decay. At the same time, you’ll also support your cognitive health and preserve your memory well into your later years. Now you know—a healthy smile goes hand in hand with a healthy mind!

About the Author

Dr. David Rosenfeld is a brilliant and compassionate dentist who enjoys getting to know his patients while helping them achieve a brighter smile. He graduated from the Columbia University School of Dental and Oral Surgery and continued his education through residency and continuing education in multiple advanced topics like dental implants and oral pathology. Call (908) 668-7838 to schedule an appointment at Rosenfeld Dental Associates or visit the website to discover other services they provide.

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