BBC Breakfast: Carol jokes that she's 'off to fix her teeth'
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Research has identified a potential risk factor for dementia that can be found in the mouth.
Each missing tooth a person has increases their risk of dementia by 1.1 percent.
People missing all of their teeth have 40 percent higher risk of being diagnosed with dementia and have a 54 percent increased risk of cognitive impairment.
The researchers, publishing in JAMDA, found that this effect was reduced by the installation of dentures.
The association between losing teeth and cognitive decline persisted even after accounting for variables that might disrupt the results.
The researchers speculate that oral health could be an important factor for prevention.
This means that promoting good oral health and fluoridating water could reduce the rates of dementia on a large scale.
Additionally, the prompt installation of dentures after losing a tooth could reduce the risk.
The researchers note that younger people are less likely to suffer from both missing teeth and dementia.
They describe that it is harder to maintain good oral healthcare in later life when people are increasingly dependent on others for self-care.
Cognitive decline may also worsen hygiene, leading to the loss of teeth.
Other research has examined the role of other mouth diseases, which can be worsened by loss of teeth, that may increase the risk of dementia.
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Previous studies had provided mixed results on the correlation between tooth loss and cognitive decline.
Many small studies had been performed on the subject, which were combined in this large analysis to look for trends that might have been missed previously.
These studies can only look at observational elements which means that there could potentially be a third factor that causes both tooth loss and cognitive decline.
The number of people with dementia is expected to triple by 2050 compared to the number in 2019.
The cognitive condition cannot be cured by there are lifestyle changes that can aid with prevention and slow the progression of dementia.
The NHS says that treating comorbidities such as hearing loss and depression can reduce the risk of dementia by a third.
Avoiding smoking and controlling alcohol intake have also been linked to a reduced risk for dementia.
Some research has looked at the impact dental health to see if they produce a change in dementia rates.
One study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry found that fluoridated drinking water is linked to a reduced risk of dementia among people who drink it.
Water fluoridation is the practice of artificially adding fluoride to tap water supplies to reduce rates of tooth decay.
The decision to do this is devolved to local authorities, although some areas have naturally high levels of fluoride.
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