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Chewing Abilities Can Be Linked To Cognitive Impairment

Chewing AbilitiesA great deal of studies have proven the importance of proper dental care for our overall health. It is known that taking proper care about our teeth, regular brushing, flossing, checking up our teeth and gum condition is linked to much lower risks of developing serious infections disease, digestive problems, cardiovascular diseases, and so on. A group of Swedish scientists from the Karolinska Institute and Karlstad University¬† have recently reported about the findings of their new study. It is suggested that looking at chewing abilities of the elderly can assist in assessing the risk for mental disorders and cognitive impairment of the elderly. Nowadays, the number of patients with Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia has been increasing around the world, that is why the study was focused on this issue.

Actually, as Swedish experts have reported, the initial objective was to learn if there are links between excellent dental health and regular brushing and cognitive abilities of modern elderly. They analyzed the information collected on 557 men and women in their let 70s, all citizens of Sweden. By using special tests known as the Mini-Mental State Examination, cognitive abilities and brain functioning of the participants were measured (this test is also known as Folstein test and is very commonly used to estimate the degree of cognitive impairment in elderly people). In addition to answering the questions of the test, the participants were also studied as to their dental health, daily dental care habits, possible dental problems, etc. Certainly, by that age all the participants were diagnosed with some dental problems, both severe and not too serious ones.

Initially, the scientists tended to believe that there are links between such common dental condition in elderly as tooth loss and cognitive impairment. However, after analyzing and taking into account numerous other factors (including gender of the participants, their education level and social status, developing mental problems, etc.), it turned out that the connections are clearer not between tooth loss and cognitive problems, but more between chewing abilities of the participants and their risk for cognitive impairment. “Whether elderly persons chew with natural teeth or prostheses may not contribute significantly to cognitive impairment as long as they have no chewing difficulty,” the authors of the study stated in the report. Therefore, those are chewing difficulties and chewing disorders which can increased the risk of cognitive impairment and used as warning sign for developing Alzheimer’s disease or other common forms of dementia.

The conclusions were published in October 2012 in one of the issues of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society and evoked great public interest in the United States and Europe. Many experts say that it is not the first scientific work that found out strong connections between daily tooth brushing and cognitive problems in older age. In particular, earlier this year the related findings of the researchers at the University of California were published confirming that good dental health in aging people reduces their chances to have Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia like brain disorders. According to the report of American scientists, improper dental care and failure to brush teeth on a daily basis is associated with 22 per cent higher risks of suffering from cognitive impairment in men compared to the men who have good dental health. It is interesting that in women the links turned our to be much stronger and the same condition was found to bring to 65 percent higher risks of cognitive problems.


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