In a new study, researchers found cognitive functioning and dementia can dramatically affect the conditions for oral health.
They found periodontitis is as clear a risk factor as heart disease or consuming large quantities of alcohol.
The research was conducted by an international team including a researcher from Malmö University.
Her research includes a Swedish study on aging and elderly care. The purpose is to identify the factors—medical, psychological, social—that favor good aging.
The researcher has examined whether tooth loss and periodontitis are related to cognitive impairment, which may be indicative of incipient dementia.
This was carried out by clinical and radiological examinations of 1147 individuals. The individuals being studied were followed for six years.
The researcher has used the same cognitive test instruments that are used when evaluating/examining individuals at risk for dementia.
She wanted to see if periodontitis could predict cognitive impairment in people who were initially characterized as cognitively healthy.
The result showed periodontitis has a big impact on the risk of cognitive impairment.
The link between periodontitis and dementia may be that individuals cannot take care of their dental health due to dementia.
There are however other hypotheses regarding a potential relationship such as a common inflammatory factor and impaired chew function.
The research points to the importance of diagnosing and treating periodontitis even among the elderly.
The researcher is Helena Nilsson.
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