Many people are living into their 100s these days. In spite of impressive technological and medical advances, certain parts of our body will gradually decline as we age. Linking our oral health to our overall well-being is called oral-systemic health. Multiple research studies have highlighted a connection between tooth retention and cognitive function. Researchers from Baylor College of Medicine studied gum chewing in college students, for example. Standardized math scores were higher in those that chewed gum on a regular basis. In other research, a Swedish study focused solely on chewing as a means for lowering rates of dementia in the elderly.
Chewing and Dementia Link
The Department of Odontology and the Aging Research Center at the Karolinska Institute uncovered details on how the action of chewing creates blood flow to the brain. The Swedish researchers examined data on 557 elderly people who were all over the age of 77. Significantly higher rates of dementia were seen in participants who had issues chewing hard food because of tooth loss. People who have lost some, or all, of their teeth are simply going to do less chewing. They are likely to eat a diet of softer foods, or possibly stick to a primarily liquid diet. This means less blood flow to the brain. Diminished chewing equals diminished blood flow which is likely to translate into a more expedient descent into dementia for an aging patient
Keeping up with Appointments
One of the greatest gifts you can give to a loved one who is experiencing dementia is to help them keep up with their appointments for health maintenance. For example, six month dental checkups are easy to forget if a patient is losing their short term memory. You can help your neighbor, relative, or loved one out by offering to keep a calendar for them, or keep dates on your own calendar so that you can offer a ride and companionship during what might be a confusing experience. If elderly patients continue with their regular dental care, overall health in their twilight years is likely to be much stronger.
ABOUT YOUR WILMETTE DENTIST:
Dr. Brent Engelberg and his highly-skilled team proudly serve patients and their families from Arlington Heights, IL, and all surrounding communities, including; Northbrook, Deerfield, Highland Park, Wilmette, Winnetka, Glencoe, Vernon Hills, Lincolnshire, Libertyville, Skokie, Evanston, Palatine, Schaumburg, Elk Grove Village, Rolling Meadows, and the Northern and Northwest Chicago Suburbs. To learn more, schedule a consultation online, or call our office today.