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[BRUSH UP!] Good dental health may protect against cognitive decline, dementia

An analysis of all relevant studies published in the scientific literature indicates that poor periodontal health and tooth loss may increase the risk of both cognitive decline and dementia. Poor periodontal health was defined as having periodontitis or any of the clinical parameters by which periodontal deterioration is identified, including deeper periodontal pockets, or clinical attachment or alveolar bone loss. Untreated/severe periodontal disease leads to tooth loss, and is one of the leading causes of tooth loss among older adults.

The analysis, which is published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, included 47 studies. Poor periodontal health was associated with a 23% higher odds of cognitive decline and a 21% higher risk of dementia. Tooth loss alone was linked to a 23% higher odds of cognitive decline and a 13% higher risk of dementia.

The authors write, “From a clinical perspective, our findings emphasize the importance of monitoring and management of periodontal health in the context of dementia prevention, although available evidence is not yet sufficient to point out clear ways for early identification of at-risk individuals, and the most efficient measures to prevent cognitive deterioration." Nonetheless, they   note, "Monitoring and management of periodontal health are important in the context of dementia prevention. Particular attention should be paid to oral health

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