The Link Between Tooth Loss and Dementia

A healthy mouth with a full set of teeth will keep seniors sharp and healthy.

A mouth with missing teeth, on the other hand, can threaten the mental health of seniors.

A study by researchers from NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing found that adults with more tooth loss had 1.48 more risk of developing cognitive impairment and 1.28 risk of being diagnosed with dementia.

Tooth Loss Leads to Poor Diet, Then Dementia

I couldn’t agree more with the saying that you are what you eat.

Plant foods have a lot of antioxidants and vital vitamins that have been shown to reduce the risk of dementia.

Sadly, seniors who do not have teeth are not able to chew fruits and vegetables properly. As a result, they face an increased risk of dementia, another study showed.

Tooth Loss Leads to Depression, Which is Linked to Dementia

I’ve noticed that many elders, who have healthy teeth, seem to have a higher sense of self-awareness and the will to live.

But seniors who have lost their teeth tend to be self-conscious, especially when people are looking at them. Others might not want to engage in any social interactions, preventing them from enjoying relationships with others. 

This can lead to isolation and depression. There is a lot of evidence that shows that depression affects the brain. We’ve also seen a strong association between depression over the lifespan and vascular dementia.

So, we need to focus on offering effective treatment to avoid tooth loss and subsequent depression.

As the Geriatric Tooth Fairy, I raise awareness about the plight of seniors to make sure they receive good oral care. Invite me to your facility, conference, training, or interview to hear more. You can also purchase my book The Tooth and Nothing But the Truth for more information on taking care of the oral health of seniors.

Act Early to Prevent Tooth Loss and Dementia

Preventing tooth loss can help seniors take care of their smiles and ultimately reduce their risk for dementia.

There are many causes of tooth loss that dental professionals need to treat. One major cause of tooth loss is tooth decay.  Decay can potentially lead to cavities, abscesses, and tooth loss.

Many seniors tend to suffer from tooth decay because they don’t brush well. This is not their fault as many of them are wheelchair-bound or bed-bound.

When elders don’t clean their mouth well, food lays on the surface of the tooth until they get decayed,  which can cause a small hole in the tooth and ultimately tooth loss.

Helping elders brush their teeth properly and treating tooth decay early can prevent tooth loss.

Another cause of tooth loss is gum disease. If caught early, gum disease can be easily treated. This is possible is they are covered with dental insurance for seniors. If gum disease is discovered late, the senior might require more comprehensive treatment.

Make a Plan

Whether elders are covered with dental insurance for seniors or not, dental professionals can make a plan to treat current problems to prevent future tooth loss.

With good oral care, the elders should be able to retain their teeth. Seniors should, therefore, see dental professions regularly.  The professionals will check their teeth for tooth decay, gum disease, and other conditions.

It is also important for elders to avoid sugary foods, which cause tooth decay.  And of course, they should brush their teeth and gums daily with higher fluoride toothpaste, especially before bedtime.

For more advice on the dental care of seniors, invite the Geriatric Tooth Fairy, Sonya Dunbar, to your event or facility. Sonya specializes in saving our greatest generation by educating others about the importance of oral health as we age. You can also purchase my book The Tooth and Nothing But the Truth for more information on taking care of the oral health of seniors.


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