An increasing number of studies have been linking poor dental health to a variety of conditions and illnesses that affect the entire body.
Research published in the October 2007 issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association suggests that tooth loss may be a predictor of dementia.
In order to come to their conclusions, scientists at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine and College of Dentistry analyzed the dental health records and cognitive examinations of 144 older patients.
They found that those who had fewer teeth were at a higher risk of developing dementia over the course of the study, compared with those who had the most teeth.
Instead of directly causing dementia, poor dental health is more likely to be a condition that occurs simultaneously in people who are also affected by chronic diseases, the team suggests.
According to the American Dental Hygienists' Association, seniors are at a particular risk for some oral diseases, such as gum disease and tooth decay. For this reason, the group suggests that family members pay particular attention to their loved ones' dental care.
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