To protect your cognitive function, protect your gum and teeth first

In a new study, researchers found poor oral health is linked to decreased quality of life, depression, high blood pressure, and cognitive decline.

The finding suggests oral health is an essential part of psychological well-being and overall health in older people.

The research was conducted by a team from Rutgers University.

The team explored the relationship between poor oral health and cognitive decline and the effects of perceived stress and social support on dry mouth among older Chinese Americans.

They interviewed more than 2,700 older people aged 60 and older and found that nearly 50% of study participants reported experiencing tooth symptoms, 25.5% reported dry mouth.

The team found those who reported tooth symptoms experienced declines in cognition and episodic memory, often precursors to dementia.

In addition, stress increased symptoms of dry mouth, leading to poorer overall oral health.

The findings suggest the need for checking psychosocial factors due to the current emphasis on physical diseases and health behaviors in oral health.

The results further serve as a call to action for policymakers to develop programs aimed at improving oral health preventative and dental care services in this high-risk population.

The team says support from family and friends could be protective against dry mouth symptoms in relation to stress.

The research raises critical awareness for dental and healthcare providers of the role of perceived stress in dry mouth symptoms.

The researchers suggest working collaboratively, dental, and healthcare providers can better identify oral health symptoms as risk factors of cognitive decline in a vulnerable population.

The primary focus should include promoting optimal oral health and improving the quality of life.

One author of the study is XinQi Dong, director of Rutgers University’s Institute for Health, Health Care Policy, and Aging Research.

The study is published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

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