There are many benefits to growing older. The wisdom of your years can make a lot of things easier. You know how to not get upset about things that aren’t worth the pain. You appreciate the things that really matter.
Unfortunately, there’s a risk of growing old that can make it hard to appreciate life: dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. There are, however, many things you can do to protect yourself from this risk as you get older. And it turns out that one of the most effective is to take care of your teeth.
That’s right, a new study shows that keeping more of your teeth can reduce your risk of dementia by over 50%!
Looking Back at the Evidence
There are many different ways scientists can look at an important question like this. One is to design an experiment to look at the question. Another way is to look at all the other experiments that have been done on the question, called a review or meta-analysis. This new study isn’t based on new experiments, but on a review and meta-analysis of previous experiments. This can actually be the best way to resolve important questions. Individual experiments may come up with different results. Putting them all together lets us look at all the data to give a more definitive answer.
For this analysis researchers looked at the data from 11 previous studies, which included nearly 30,000 people between the ages of 52 and 75. A limitation of pooling studies is that sometimes the original data isn’t defined the same way, so you’re restricted in the questions you can answer. That was the case in this study: they could only compare groups of people who had few or no teeth left and those who had most or all their teeth left.
But the analysis showed clear results: those who had most or all of their teeth had a 52% lower risk of dementia than those who had few or no teeth. There are limitations to their evidence, but they believe that this reflects an actual connection, even if the level of risk reduction may not be accurate.
Preserving Your Teeth
If you want to reduce your risk of dementia, it’s time to start thinking about preserving your teeth. There are good strategies to help you maintain your teeth for life.
The most important step is to protect your teeth. Take good care of your teeth at home with regular brushing and flossing.
Then it’s important to make your regular dental appointments. We can provide more thorough cleaning and help you improve your at-home routine as well.
We’ll also help you identify and treat gum disease before it gets too bad. Gum disease is linked with many major health problems, and may be the link between tooth loss and dementia.
As long as prevention is working, that’s great. But it’s also important to restore teeth should they become damaged. The sooner this gets done, the better. Smaller fillings preserve more of your natural teeth and reduce your risk of future decay.
But, when necessary, restorations like dental crowns can dramatically improve the life of your teeth.
But what if a tooth gets too damaged to be restored? In that case, it’s important to extract the damaged tooth and replace it. Dental implants are the best tooth replacement for restoring healthy function.
But this study showed that denture wear was associated with a lower risk of dementia among people who had lost teeth. They may be an imperfect replacement, but they can still help.
Smiles for Today and Tomorrow
Preserving your teeth can help you maintain your overall health. It can help you live longer and be happier. It can also help preserve your memory so that you enjoy all the days you have left.