Memory Loss Tied to Loss of Natural Teeth
We all forget things from time to time. Misplaced keys, the inability to recall someone’s name, a skipped appointment – these things happen. However, a recent study showed a link between the number of natural teeth a person has and memory function. More specifically, the research demonstrated that people with fewer teeth exhibited a decline in memory function. The 273 participants were all age 55 or older with an average of 22 natural teeth. The participants with fewer natural teeth did worse on memory tests than the participants with more teeth.
The Tooth/Memory Connection
So how do teeth impact memory? Loss of teeth and loss of memory function aren’t events we’d typically equate. However, the findings of the recent study support previous research in this area. Several theories exist regarding this connection:
- Lack of sensory input to the brain: When we bite or chew, our teeth send signals to the brain. That lack of stimulus resulting from the loss of natural teeth may diminish memory function.
- Reduced ability to eat a nutritious diet: People with missing teeth often find chewing difficult and may steer clear of nutrient-rich foods needed for optimal memory function.
- Gum disease: This chronic condition is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults. Perhaps the inflammatory response caused by gum disease causes the death of neurons, resulting in memory loss.
Tooth loss as we age isn’t inevitable. By caring for your smile now, you can ward off dental diseases and conditions that contribute to tooth loss. St. Charles MO dentist Dr. Jeffrey Smith can help you maintain a healthy smile for life. He offers comprehensive preventive, cosmetic, and restorative dentistry treatments to enhance the look, feel, function, and longevity of teeth.
Call our office today to schedule an appointment.