Ever since childhood, people are taught, or should be taught, to practice proper oral health. Most people at least brush twice a day, even though most dentists recommend doing it more often, especially after each meal. But does it go deeper? Can it impact more than just your oral health? There have been a multitude of studies around the subject but finding the truth can be tough. A lot of the studies have their critics, and the experts need a little longer to really work out if poor oral health impacts brain function. The earlier results seem to suggest that there certainly is some kind of link and that poor oral health does impact brain function.
What Else Does Poor Oral Health Impact?
It can impact quite a lot. Not just brain function. Poor oral health has a huge negative impact on your heart. It can cause cardiovascular disease, especially in men. Bacteria from bad gums naturally gets swallowed and finds its way to the heart. It can cause your arteries to harden, never a good thing. It can lead to the thickening of blood, meaning you could end up with a blockage that causes a heart attack or stroke. Your lungs are also at risk, because you’re breathing in air that’s passed through the bacteria in your mouth. In the main, poor oral health can lead to swollen and infected gums as well as teeth.
Does It Impact Brain Function?
As well as all the nasties above, there has been studies that suggest poor oral health can cause dementia. If you’re a dentist, you might have heard of this but studies are still just getting off the ground. Essentially, if you get gingivitis, the bacteria can enter the brain via the many nerve channels. It can also enter the brain through the bloodstream. Some experts have warned that this can cause dementia, some even believe it’s the one true cause of the awful brain disease.
Researchers at Rutgers University, New Jersey, conducted a study recently by where they test whether poor oral health can affect the brain. In the main, it looked at certain cognitive aspects and believe it impacts things like memory and main function, something that may surprise the average dentist. It concludes that there is a significant relationship between oral health and memory. While also noting that it can also potentially impact complex attention and learning. The study itself can be found here.
There was also a relationship between oral health and stress, or at least perceived stress. There’s a link between having a dry mouth and high levels of stress. In the older generations, it’s even more important to practice good oral health. Otherwise, it could lead to slower cognitive function, episodic memory loss, or, in a worst case scenario, complete dementia.
It’s important to remember that these are just outset studies, with only a small amount of the population looked at and assessed. There needs to be more studies before dentists and professionals really know what impacts brain function and in what way oral health can impact the brain.
How Can You Stop It
You can’t completely stop it, because experts don’t know how to yet. The first step to take is to assess your own oral health methods. By doing this you might be able to start better hygiene practices which could help shield you against any of the above issues. If you’re unsure about where to start, speak to your dentist. They may recommend a trip to the hygienist, but in the main, you need to work out what you can do on a daily basis to combat poor oral hygiene. Brush after every meal, not just morning and night. Make sure you use a good toothpaste, preferably something with flouride in the mix. It’s better for cleaning your teeth. Don’t forget to floss daily too. It’s something a lot of people forget about. You can use an interdental toothbrush too to get to those hard to reach places. Once you’re done cleaning, use a good quality mouthwash. This can kill any bacteria build up in your mouth. Do this at least twice a day. They come in all different types, so find one that suits you or the problems you’re experiencing. Again, your dentist will be able to advise which is the best. If you’re experiencing anything out of the ordinary, book an appointment with your dentist, don’t try to cure it with over the counter stuff or you could make it worse.