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Association Between Tooth Loss And Cognitive Impairment

Various studies infer that teeth are an important structure not only for chewing or the smile but also for better functioning of our central nervous system (CNS) and explaining this correlation, between teeth and brain is the object of this article.

In humans, the stimulation of the brain evokes sensations of touch, pressure and pain. The forces acting on the tooth, involves a movement of the element in the alveolar bone, induce tension in the periodontal ligament and causes the excitation of receptors that send the impulse to the brain, specifically to the mesencephalic trigeminal nucleus.

I do not want to bombard you with lots of medical terminologies.

Let’s put it this way, every time we open and close the mouth and the teeth are touching, a nonspecific activation of the cerebral cortex is happening. The cerebral cortex is responsible for our cognitive functions like memory, orientation, attention, interpretation, ability to make decisions, solve problems, and lots of other mental processes that allow us to carry our daily tasks.

Now, what is happening if we start losing our teeth? Teeth loss decreases cognitive function and increases the risk of dementia (vascular dementia, Alzheimer's disease)! Dementia has a significant impact on an individual’s disability and mortality, and it also diminishes the quality of life for both patients and their caregivers.

Evidence had shown that tooth loss is associated only with oral health but also with systematic health. Various studies done in Asia, Europe and America described the correlation between teeth loss and dementia.

The Hisayam Study (one of the studies that took place in Japan) shows that people with 10-19 teeth have a 62% increased risk of developing dementia compared to people with 20 or more teeth. Those with 1-9 teeth have an 81% increased risk and those with no teeth have a 63% increased risk.

Factors that were considered: age, education, high blood pressure, alcohol intake, depression, single, smoking, diabetes, and periodontitis.

Another research article done in China says that the chronic process of periodontitis produces chronic inflammation and neuropathology and the bacteria may reach the brain via branches of the trigeminal nerve.

References - Secondary source educational information gathered by the author.

  • “Association between tooth loss and cognitive function among 3063 Chinese order people adults A community-based study “ , J.Luo, B.Wu,Q.Zhao,Q. Guo,H.Meng,L.Yu,L.Zheng,Z.Hong,D.Ding“

  • Teeth and central nervous system: what happens when you go to sleep” G. Andrisani“

  • Tooth loss and risk of Dementia in the community”, The Hisayama Study, Journal of the American Geriatric Society

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