MEDICALLY REVIEWED

Strong Teeth, Healthy Mind? The Surprising Link Between Oral Health and Brain Health

There is increasing evidence that maintaining a healthy mouth could be a cornerstone for ensuring a sharp mind. 

The intricate bond between oral health and brain health is an emerging field of study. Recent discoveries are transforming our understanding of their interconnection. We delve into the scientific data and insights that link dental care with cognitive function.

Preliminary Study Suggests Link Between Poor Oral Health and Structural Brain Changes

Preliminary findings from a recent study suggest that individuals who have a genetic predisposition to dental problems, such as cavities, may be more prone to developing structural changes in the brain associated with cognitive decline.

Previous research has already established a connection between oral health issues like gum disease, poor brushing habits, missing teeth, and plaque build-up with an increased risk of stroke and factors that contribute to heart disease, such as high blood pressure.

However, the impact of poor oral health on brain health and function has not been well understood until now. 

The study involved analysing data from approximately 40,000 adults without a history of stroke who participated in the UK Biobank, an ongoing medical study. These individuals were screened for over 100 genetic variations associated with an increased likelihood of experiencing dental issues like cavities, missing teeth, and the need for dentures later in life. 

The preliminary findings of the study, presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2023, indicated that individuals with a genetic predisposition to cavities and tooth loss exhibited a greater presence of white matter hyperintensities and structural damage on their MRI scans.

However, it is important to note that this study is preliminary and further evidence needs to be gathered, ideally through clinical trials, to establish a definitive link between improving oral health and benefiting brain health.

Preventative Oral Health

Maintaining proper oral care and hygiene is crucial for overall well-being. Preventative oral care involves adopting a regular routine to keep your teeth and gums healthy and free from diseases. By implementing good oral hygiene practices, such as brushing, flossing, and regular dental check-ups, you can prevent various dental issues and promote a lifetime of strong teeth and a radiant smile.

Brushing and Flossing:

One of the fundamental aspects of preventative oral care is brushing your teeth at least twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste. This removes plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. It is recommended to use a soft-bristled toothbrush and gentle, circular motions to clean the front, back, and chewing surfaces of your teeth. Additionally, daily flossing helps remove food particles and plaque from between the teeth and along the gum line, where a toothbrush cannot reach.

Regular Dental Check-ups:

Routine dental visits are essential for preventative care. Regular check-ups allow your dentist to examine your teeth, gums, and oral tissues, catching any potential problems at an early stage. During these visits, your dentist may perform professional cleanings to remove hardened plaque (tartar) and provide personalised advice on maintaining optimal oral health. Early detection of dental issues like cavities, gum disease, or oral cancer can lead to prompt treatment, preventing further complications.

Healthy Diet and Lifestyle:

A nutritious diet and a healthy lifestyle significantly contribute to oral health. Limiting the consumption of sugary and acidic foods and drinks helps reduce the risk of tooth decay. Instead, focus on consuming a well-balanced diet which provides essential nutrients for strong teeth and gums. Additionally, avoiding tobacco products and excessive alcohol consumption promotes better oral hygiene and lowers the chances of oral cancer and gum disease.

Additional Preventative Measures:

Several other measures can help safeguard your oral health. Using fluoride mouthwash or rinsing with water after meals helps remove food debris and bacteria. Avoiding bad oral habits such as nail-biting, teeth grinding, and chewing on ice or hard objects prevents unnecessary tooth damage. 

Wearing a mouth guard during contact sports protects your teeth from potential injuries. Lastly, maintaining overall health through regular exercise and stress management positively impacts your oral well-being as well.

Preventative oral care and hygiene play a vital role in keeping your teeth and gums healthy. By adopting a daily care routine and regular check-ups, you can take proactive steps towards achieving optimal oral health. Remember, prevention is always better than cure when it comes to oral well-being.

References:

  1. Poor Oral Health Is Associated with Worse Brain Imaging Profiles – PubMed. (2023, March 18). PubMed. https://doi.org/10.1101/2023.03.18.23287435 
  2. Oral Health Tips | Adult Oral Health | Basics | Oral Health | CDC. (2024, April 10). https://www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/basics/adult-oral-health/tips.html#:~:text=Brush%20teeth%20thoroughly%20twice%20a,If%20you%20smoke%2C%20quit. 
  3. Oral health: A window to your overall health. (2021, October 28). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/dental/art-20047475 
  4. Porphyromonas gingivalis Periodontal Infection and Its Putative Links with Alzheimer’s Disease – PubMed. (2015, January 1). PubMed. https://doi.org/10.1155/2015/137357

Share via

Also worth reading

People also read:

GLOBICS oral health
Singapore Leads New Global Health Initiative to Combat Chronic Oral Diseases

The National Dental Research Institute Singapore (NDRIS) has taken a major step forward in the fight against chronic oral diseases by launching a Global Consortium of Oral Health Birth Cohort Studies (GLOBICS). The initiative aims to enhance international collaboration on research studies, allowing experts from around the world to pool their data for a more comprehensive analysis.

Read More »