Smile bright, think right: the unusual tale of teeth and brain

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Do you know your pearly whites might have a surprising connection with your brain?

Scientists say there’s a tie between the health of your teeth and your brain.

Now that’s something to chew on!

The Study in Simple Words

A group of scientists in Japan did some tests. They published their findings online on July 5, 2023. The report showed that issues with your teeth and gums might lead to your brain getting smaller in some parts.

But don’t worry! This doesn’t mean having bad teeth will give you Alzheimer’s disease. It’s just that the two seem to be linked in some way.

Who Said What?

Satoshi Yamaguchi, the man who led the study, thinks this is a big deal. He’s a very smart guy with a lot of degrees. According to him, bad teeth and gum problems are very common.

And if these can affect our brain health, it’s something we should take seriously. This is just another reason to brush and floss, folks!

The People and The Process

In the study, there were 172 people, around the age of 67. These folks didn’t have memory problems. They got their teeth checked, took memory tests, and had their brains scanned.

The brain scans were to see the size of the hippocampus. It’s a part of the brain that helps us remember things. This process was done twice, once at the start and again after four years.

What’s The Deal With Gums?

When the scientists checked the teeth, they also looked at the gums. They measured the gum tissue’s depth, which tells them about gum health.

Healthy gums measure one to three millimeters. If the depth is three or four millimeters, you might have mild gum disease. If it’s five or six millimeters, the gum disease is severe. And if it’s too severe, teeth can fall out.

The Brain Connection

The scientists saw a link between the number of teeth, gum health, and changes in the brain’s hippocampus.

If people with mild gum disease lost teeth, their brains shrank a bit faster. On the other hand, if people with severe gum disease had more teeth, their brains also shrank faster.

After considering age, scientists found some interesting stuff. For people with mild gum disease, losing one tooth was like the brain aging by nearly one year.

For people with severe gum disease, having one more tooth was like 1.3 years of brain aging.

The Takeaway

What does all of this mean? Dr. Yamaguchi says it’s all about keeping your teeth healthy, not just keeping them. Teeth with severe gum disease might need to be removed.

And of course, regular dental visits are crucial to stop gum disease from getting worse. It seems like the simple act of maintaining a healthy smile could help our brains stay young and sharp!

What’s Next?

We need more research and more people to be sure. This study was only in one part of Japan. But it’s a start, right?

So, the next time you reach for your toothbrush, remember you’re not just fighting cavities. You might be helping your brain too. And that’s something worth smiling about!

If you care about tooth health, please read studies about an important causes of tooth decay and gum disease, and how often should you get your teeth cleaned.

For more information about tooth health, please see recent studies about mouthwash that may increase your tooth damage, and results showing common tooth disease may increase the risk of dementia.

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