Taking care of oral hygiene goes far beyond the health of the mouth and teeth, in fact, it can even have a protective action on the heart and brain. This emerged from a very recent scientific research presented at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference, which was held in Dallas between 8 and 10 February 2023 by a group of American scientists from the Yale School of Medicine (Rivier et al, International Stroke Conference, Dallas Feb 8-10, 2023).
Health of teeth and gums and health of the heart
Previous studies had been able to show that problems with the teeth and gums, such as inflammation and cavities, but also incorrect oral hygiene habits, such as poor brushing habits and lack of plaque removal, are associated with a higher risk of high blood pressure, heart attack and cardiovascular disease. And what happens in the brain? Understanding this aspect is also of vital importance because oral health is a modifiable factor, on which we can act, with visits to the dentist and accurate hygiene at home. The study we are talking about today delves into this topic.
Dental health and brain, there is a link
Scientists recruited 40,000 adults, average age 57, following them from 2014 to 2021 in order to analyze the link between dental health and the brain. Indicators of oral health were caries, teeth extracted in older age and the use of dentures. To assess the state of the brain volunteers underwent nuclear magnetic resonance imaging. Well, what has emerged is that poor health conditions of the oral cavity are associated with damage to the level of the cerebral white substance, which is the set of nerve fibers that serve to make neurons communicate with each other. This damage can be reflected in memory, balance and mobility problems.
The research is preliminary and much work still needs to be done to confirm these results on even larger samples of the population. But certainly, waiting for science to take its course, a good choice is to take better care of our oral hygiene, which is often neglected. We already know that the health of the teeth and gums depends on the health of the heart, now there is the hypothesis, already preliminarily confirmed by science but awaiting further verification, that the health of the brain may also depend. Therefore, these are small tricks that can be inserted into everyday life that can however bring great benefits, such as brushing our teeth regularly and carefully, using dental floss or an interdental brush, using techniques such as oil pulling that help to counteract many bacteria responsible for tooth decay and gum problems, but also going to the dentist and not neglecting problems that can arise in the oral cavity.