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The influence of oral hygiene on the brain

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Studies show that mouth health affects the brain.

The accumulation of bacteria can cause an inflammation of the gums that might destroy the bone supporting the teeth. Bleeding or swelling gums can be signs of a gum disease. This is called a periodontal disease. If neglected, teeth can be lost. Periodontitis can be prevented by brushing and flossing your teeth.

Gum disease or an untreated tooth infection can attack neurons in the brain and affect cognitive functions. The proteins that are released in the blood during a gum inflammation or a tooth infection can reach the brain. Bacteria causing periodontitis have been found in the brain. Studies show that the risk factor of chronic periodontitis association with dementia exists. The ability to memorize and to learn might be reduced (*1). Beta-amyloid plaques, playing a role in Alzheimer disease can appear as a response to this infection (*2)

Tooth loss may also affect memory. Studies show a connection between tooth loss and cognitive impairment (*3). It is suggested that the movement of teeth stimulates the hippocampus involved in memory. Missing teeth alter the impulses coming from the movement of the jaw. The reduction of chewing-related stimuli, among other factors, could lead to cognitive decline. This involves difficulties to remember, to learn, to focus; or in worse cases, to Alzheimer disease.

In addition, studies link dental cavities (*4) or tooth loss(*5) to an increase risk of brain stroke. The accumulation of oral bacteria can cause inflammation in the blood vessels supplying oxygen and nutriments. Blood clots may appear, blocking the flow of the brain. The blood vessel can also burst, causing hemorrhage into the brain.

Conclusion: Prevention of oral health problems is an essential part of your overall health and well-being. Keeping your mouth clean, your teeth healthy by brushing and flossing, and regularly seeking dental care will reduce the risks of a brain disease.

*(1)Stoner Periodontics post June 25, 2015

*(2) National Institute on Aging “Large study links gum disease with dementia”

*(3) Xiaoyu Wang 1, Jiangqi Hu 1, Qingsong Jiang “Tooth Loss-Associated Mechanisms That Negatively Affect Cognitive” Function

*(4) Thor Christensen, American Heart Association News “How oral health may affect your heart, brain and risk of death”

*(5) Mitsuyoshi Yoshida, Yasumasa Akagawab “The relationship between tooth loss and cerebral stroke”

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