Keeping your teeth clean could help your mind to stay sharp into old age, research suggests.
Those with poor oral hygiene and swollen, bleeding gums are more likely to suffer memory problems linked to Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, a study found.
And the worse the condition of their gums, the higher their risks of memory blanks.
The study adds to a welter of evidence about the benefits of regular brushing, flossing and visits to the dentist.
Previous research has blamed the bugs behind gum disease for other ills including heart disease, diabetes and low sperm counts.
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Now, it appears they may also stop us from thinking as clearly as we might.
The researchers, from Columbia University in New York, tested more than 2,300 men and women for bugs that cause periodontitis, in which gums are so diseased that they recede and teeth become loose. The volunteers, who were all aged 60 and over, were also put through a battery of memory tests.
The tests posed a problem for up to a fifth of those taking part, with those with bad dental health faring the worst.
The men and women with the highest levels of gum disease bugs were three times as likely to have trouble recalling a three-word sequence as those with the lowest amounts.
November 16, 2009