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How Poor Oral Health Impacts Brain Health, Expert Explains

A study states that poor oral health can lead to a decline in brain health. So researchers urge people to take care of their oral health diligently.

Varun Verma
Written by: Varun VermaUpdated at: Feb 06, 2023 15:21 IST
How Poor Oral Health Impacts Brain Health, Expert Explains

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There is no debate that poor oral health leads to many health complications, not just of the mouth but also of other body parts. Poor oral health can also complicate diabetes management. It can interfere with the functioning of the heart, as the bacteria from the mouth can flow into the bloodstream reaching the heart. Now there has been a preliminary study which states that poor oral health can also lead to a decline in brain health. We talked to Dr Kishkindha, BDS, Ludhiana, Punjab, to learn more about how poor oral hygiene leads to a decline in brain health. But before this, let us see what the new research says about it.

What The Study Said?

This preliminary study will be presented at the International Stroke Conference 2023 of the American Stroke Association. It states that taking care of your teeth and gums may have advantages beyond dental health, such as improving brain function. The conference is the premier venue for scientists and doctors studying stroke and brain health.

There was a 24% increase in the number of white matter hyperintensities seen on the MRI scans in those genetically predisposed to cavities, missing teeth, or needing dentures, analysed the study.

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According to the study analysis, a 43% shift in the microstructural damage scores observed on the MRI images indicated greater damage to the fine architecture of the brain in those with generally genetically poor dental health. Microstructural damage scores are total-brain assessments of the harm done to each brain region's intricate design. 

What Our Expert Said?

Talking to OnlyMyHealth, Dr Kishkindha said that all the blood supply to the oral cavity is done by the same mechanism in the head and neck region. She said, "The veins, arteries, and lymph nodes that supply the brain also supply the oral cavity. For example, the blood supply of the oral cavity is by the internal carotid artery, which also supplies blood to the brain and the central nervous system. So, if there is a complication in the oral cavity, like a blockage in the blood supply, then it may also affect the brain."

She also mentioned, "The decline in brain health is not absolute to poor oral health. If the brain or central nervous system already has some complications, then it might aggravate due to poor oral health. But it is unlikely that a person with no brain problems may develop it only because of poor oral health. Poor oral health plays an aggravating factor if there is plaque, calculus deposits, and gum disease; they could act as a cause of influencing factors for problems of the brain and central nervous system."

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Limitations Of The Study

The study author Cyprien Rivier stated that this is just a preliminary study, and more evidence needs to be gathered to confirm that oral health improvement will lead to brain health improvement. The analysis was limited to people who reside in the U.K., most of whom are of European ancestry, where 94% of the participants reported their race as white. In comparison, 6% of participants reported as mixed, Black British, Asian British or other. More research involving people from various racial and ethnic backgrounds is also required.

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