Link between tooth loss and dementia

Link between tooth loss and dementia

26 Jan 2011

A recent study has shown a relationship between tooth loss and dementia.

The new study tested more than 4,200 individuals and found that those who had fewer of their own teeth were at increased risk of experiencing memory loss or early-stage Alzheimer’s disease. The Japanese participants, who were all 65 or older, were given a full dental examination and a psychological assessment.

Chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter, said, “This study only goes to strengthen the possible link between tooth loss and memory. Previous studies have suggested there might be a link between a low number of teeth and Alzheimer’s disease and baseline dementia, and the case towards a possible link seems to be growing ever stronger.

“We already know that good oral health has a positive impact on overall health, and likewise, the evidence towards poor oral health and systemic links is mounting.

“Heart disease, strokes, diabetes, lung disease and pre- and low-weight babies have all been found to be linked with poor oral health. This latest research highlights yet another worrying risk factor of having poor oral health.”

The study also revealed that participants with symptoms of memory loss tended to report that they had rarely visited the dentist, if at all. Dr Nozomi Okamoto, the study’s principal investigator, said that this may be one explanation for the study’s findings, but suggested that there may be other links between tooth loss and memory problems. 

He commented, “Infections in the gums that can lead to tooth loss may release inflammatory substances, which in turn will enhance the brain inflammation that cause neuronal death and hasten memory loss. The loss of sensory receptors around the teeth is linked to some of the dying neurons.” 


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