Does tooth loss affect memory?

If you are lazy or anxious to visit your dentist regularly, consider this-“Scientists say that tooth loss could lead to memory loss”

Sounds bizarre!!!!!!

Let’s take a tour……….

If losing a tooth is painful, inconvenient and stressful, tooth loss can do more harm than just reduced chewing abilities. Scientists studying dementia in Alzheimer’s disease have found more gum disease related bacteria in the brain of patients than others. These patients also have more gum disease causing bacteria in their mouths. These bacteria could cause inflammation and brain damage.

Severe and untreated gum disease eventually leads to tooth loss.

In another study to determine the relationship between the number of natural teeth and memory in older people, it was found that, the molars or the chewing back teeth were generally missing. The older people had lesser teeth than the younger induviduals. The researchers found that the presence of natural teeth seems to have an impact on cognitive functions. This study can be interpreted as being

  • Degeneration of sensory receptors due to missing teeth in the mouth that reduces the sensory input to the part of the brain that is responsible for memory
  • Impaired chewing ability due to loss of teeth that makes people choose foods that are easy to chew, which may lead to poor nutrition and reduced memory.

What would this mean to you and me?

  • The movement of our jaw and teeth create sensory impulses that are sent to specific parts of the brain. This part of the brain is responsible to form and recall memories. Those of you without the teeth or lesser number of teeth produce fewer signals to be sent to this region called the hippocampus.
  • Those of you with lesser teeth may avoid certain foods leading to lesser intake of vital nutrients like proteins, vitamins etc. This could damage brain functions and subsequently memory.
  • Chewing increases the blood flow to the brain. With lesser teeth the chewing efficiency is reduced.
  • Artificial teeth like dental implants can restore the sensory input to the brain only to an extent. The results are still lesser than that of natural teeth.

Is it true that tooth loss could mean loss of memory?

Research has shown the potential connection between general poor health and poor oral health and brain health, that they could be related. There could be a link between tooth loss and memory loss. But the association could be small. Further research in the field will give us a better picture.

As of now its important that you follow stringent oral hygiene procedures of brushing twice a day, flossing and rinsing with a mouthwash. And do not forget to visit your dentist for your regular check ups.