The majority of us probably have pretty shallow motivations for brushing our teeth. Maybe it’s just a habit instilled by our parents or maybe it’s because we want our smile to remain bright and beautiful. Regardless, if you’ve made a solid oral hygiene habit of brushing and flossing then congratulations — keep doing what you’re doing! If you’re one of many who still struggle to continually brush and floss, then maybe a recent study conducted out of the University of Southern California can provide another motivator: avoiding dementia.
The study followed about fifty-five hundred participants ages sixty-eight or older between 1992 and 2010, paying special attention to their dental health habits. What the study found was that those participants who reported not brushing their teeth daily had a 22 to 65 percent higher risk of dementia than those who brushed their teeth three times a day. The study’s conclusion was that in addition to helping participants maintain natural, healthy and functional teeth, those with strong oral health habits had a lower risk of dementia.
The Link Between Dementia and Oral Health
Periodontal disease or gum disease is an infection of the tissue around the teeth. In the beginning stages, also called gingivitis, the gums become inflamed and red. If left untreated, however, the gums can recede from the teeth causing them to become loose and eventually fall out. Brett Finlay, co-author of Let Them Eat Dirt, and others refer to the process of chronic low-grade inflammation as “inflamm-aging,” which activates your immune system and takes a toll on your body. This accelerates the aging process. When gum disease is allowed to progress, it produces inflammatory byproducts the can transition into your bloodstream, increasing your chances of not only dementia, but heart disease, stroke, and Alzheimer’s.
Keep Your Mouth and Mind Safe
The best way to keep your mouth safe is to avoid gum disease all together. To do this, you’ll need to brush twice a day, and floss before bed.
Even if you brush your teeth twice daily, you need to use proper technique to get full advantage. Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gums, use gentle strokes back and forth, and make sure to clean both the outside and inside surfaces. Also important is to make sure you brush for a full two minutes with fluoride toothpaste.
Although many tend to skip flossing, it’s incredibly important to gum health, as it cleans plaque from places where brushes can’t reach. To properly floss, start with 15 to 18 inches, wind around each middle finger, and gentle curve around the base of each tooth, making sure to dip below the gumline.
The American Dental Association also suggests getting your teeth cleaned twice a year or once every six months. This allows your hygienist to clean away tartar can can contribute to gum disease, and your dentist to spot any oral health complications before they become major problems or even treat gum disease that is already present.
If you would like to learn more about the importance of gum disease treatment, please call (910) 392-6060 or email Kuzma Advanced Dentistry today for an appointment.