The National Institutes of Health have given a four-year, $1.3 million grant to Dr Bei Wu, a researcher at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, to study how dental health and cognitive decline are linked in the elderly.
"Poor oral health is very common among older adults as is cognitive decline, with the worse case being Alzheimer's disease and dementia," said Wu. "If we have better knowledge about these two health outcomes, we could potentially provide prevention strategies that can help improve people's oral and cognitive health. These are our main goals."
Previous studies have shown links between gum disease, tooth loss and a decline in cognitive function and memory, although the specific nature of the link is unclear.
Evidence of the interplay between dental health and overall health has been mounting. Dentists have recently been urged to inform patients who come in for dental checkups with serious gum disease that there are strong links between poor dental health and higher risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes and direct them to see a doctor.
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