Dementia and Chewing Ability: Des Moines Dentist Explains Link

Aging can cause a plethora of overall health issues. Bone and joint health can become difficult to maintain as we age. Additionally, maintaining cognitive functions can become increasingly difficult. Many older patients find themselves with at risk for developing dementia as they continue to age.

The link between oral health and overall health continues to strengthen as studies focus their attention on finding evidence of the oral-systemic connection. A recent study sought to determine a similar link between chewing ability and an increased risk of dementia development. Your Des Moines dentist, Dr. Stephen J. Burds, discusses the recent findings from the study connecting chewing ability and dementia.

What is Dementia?

Currently classified as a syndrome, dementia affects a significant number of Americans. Dementia does not only affect older individuals, but people of any age. Strokes can cause brain damage which leads to dementia development at an earlier age for some individuals. Additionally, diseases like Alzheimer’s can also contribute to the development of dementia in patients. With dementia, people lose some of their cognitive functions and their memory can deteriorate. Many patients cannot correctly identify days of the week or even years in some cases. Additionally, patients can forget their own family members’ names.

How Does Dementia Involve Chewing Ability?

Researchers recently studied 557 elderly patients to determine the link between chewing ability and an increased risk of dementia. The study determined that patients whom possess the ability to chew hard foods like apples or pears typically maintained their mental functions at a higher rate than those without the ability to the chew hard foods. The study sought to prove the effect of blood flow to the brain in regards to dementia.

When people chew, blood flows to the brain. Scientists believe that people with decreased chewing ability possess a higher risk for dementia development due to insufficient blood flow. They also determined that the means of chewing seemed to play little role in determining an increased risk for dementia development. Whether patients used prosthetics, dental implants, or their natural teeth, the primary criterion for a reduced risk of dementia involved maintaining the ability to chew hard foods.

Schedule Your Visit to Ensure Chewing Ability

If you want to learn more information about maintaining chewing ability, Dr. Burds can help. At Gateway Dental Group, we provide general, restorative, and cosmetic dentistry. Contact our 50309 dental office by calling (515) 344-4131 to schedule an appointment today. We welcome patients from Des Moines and all neighboring communities.