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Could poor dental health cause dementia?
Updated: 4/13/2012 4:59:38 PM

Could poor dental health cause dementia?  

Ignoring dental health can lead to a variety of health problems. According to the American Dental Association, poor oral care may cause gum disease, which is an infection of the tissues surrounding and supporting the teeth. It is a major cause of tooth loss in adults. Sometimes, dental issues can extend beyond the mouth and affect other parts of the body.

For example, Medscape recently reported on a study of more than 4,000 elderly adults, which found that individuals with poor dental health may be more likely to develop dementia. Older individuals who had few teeth, did not use dentures or who did not visit a dentist regularly had a significantly higher risk of dementia than those with better oral health.

According to the news source, the researchers said there could be many possible causes behind the association between dental health and dementia.

"One possibility is that periodontal disease...increases concentrations of circulating inflammatory markers [that] may be involved in the pathogenesis of dementia. A second possibility is that poor nutrition, including decreased intake of vitamins, may result from tooth loss and dementia onset," said study authors, quoted by Medscape Medical News.

These findings suggest that elderly individuals should make sure to visit their dentist regularly to ensure they are in proper oral health. 

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