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Issue 193: Brush for Health

Brush Health

A healthy mouth, dazzling smile and fresh breath—those are some of the reasons why people are intentional about regularly brushing their teeth.

There are even more benefits to regular tooth brushing, however. In fact, a recent study from the University of California indicates that daily brushing is linked to a lower risk of developing dementia. In the study, 5,468 people who were part of a retirement community in California were studied over a period from 1992 to 2012. The average age of all the participants was 81, and over the course of the study, 1,145 of them developed dementia.

The results were worse for the women participants who didn’t brush their teeth daily; they had a 65 percent greater chance of developing dementia compared to the women who did brush their teeth each day. For the men who didn’t practice their daily tooth brushing, there was a 22 percent increased chance of developing dementia compared to those who did brush their pearly whites each day.

Although they noted that their findings didn’t prove a cause-and-effect relationship, the researchers summed up their conclusions by saying, “In addition to helping maintain, natural healthy, functional teeth, oral health behaviors are associated with lower risk of dementia in older adults.” The study was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Another study in 2007, published in the Journal of the American Dental Association, indicated a link between tooth loss and dementia—noting that those in the study who had the fewest teeth had a higher risk of dementia. Additionally, a study from the NYU College of Dentistry showed that gum disease may heighten the risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Brushing can help fight oral infections, so that’s probably why it decreases a person’s risk for this mind-robbing disease.

Speaking of gum disease. . . this one’s pretty much a no-brainer, but regular brushing helps to prevent gum disease. Tooth-brushing twice daily can keep gum disease at bay, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.

But wait. There's more.

A 2012 study in the American Journal of Medicine suggests that older adults who have thorough dental cleanings may be at a lower risk for heart attacks and strokes than those who aren’t as dedicated to a regular oral health regimen.

And let’s not forget about respiratory health and regular tooth brushing, since oral infections and diseases can raise a person’s risk of respiratory illnesses, including pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Both of these, by the way, occur when bacteria make their way into the lower respiratory tract from the upper throat area. Keeping the mouth clean, therefore, may help to keep bacteria from invading the lower respiratory tract. In fact, a study published in the Journal of Periodontology backs this up. 

Additionally, those who are pregnant can benefit from regular tooth brushing and oral care, since periodontal disease is linked with pre-term low birth weight, according to research published in the Journal of Periodontology.

Finally, tooth brushing may act as a signal to your brain that eating is finished, thereby possibly stopping “recreational” eating—and leading to a healthier weight, according to Prevention magazine.

So, keep on regularly brushing those pearly whites—with healthy toothpaste and other oral hygiene products, of course. There are so many benefits.



This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.

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