Can fewer teeth spell memory troubles?

Healthy, shining and pearly white teeth not just add volume to your personality but also boost your memory abilities, researchers have found.

According to the findings of a new study, a good dental and oral hygiene is vital for maintaining cognitive abilities in old age.

The study, published in the European Journal of Oral Sciences, suggests that oldies who have fewer natural teeth remaining are more likely to perform poorly on memory tests than those who have a higher number of natural teeth present.

The study
For the purpose of the study, researchers looked at 273 people ages 55 and older.
Subjects had an average of 22 natural teeth, almost one-third fewer than a complete set of human teeth.

To check the score of cognitive abilities, all participants underwent memory tests.
Researchers found that participants who had a higher number of natural teeth present were more likely to score higher in memory tests.

As both memory abilities and teeth tend to fall with age, the link was established after taking subjects` ages into account, researchers highlighted.

To check the brain function in event of teeth loss, researchers conducted a trial on rats.
Rats whose teeth were pulled out exhibited higher memory and learning problems. The brain scans conducted on such rodents revealed a higher neuronal loss, and more damage to the hippocampus, part of the brain responsible for memory formation.

How losing teeth spurs memory loss?
The researchers are still mulling over the reasons behind the link between loss of teeth and decline in cognitive abilities. The researchers have put forth various theories.
Researchers feel that losing natural teeth reduces sensory signals that teeth send to the brain, affecting memory functions.

Natural teeth transmit signals to the brain via nerves that control facial sensations, and are also responsible for motor functions like biting and chewing.

Moreover, prosthetic teeth or dentures, fitted to aid biting and chewing, lack the nerves and ligaments. Their absence results in reduced sensory input to the brain.

Researchers also speculate a common factor responsible for fall of teeth and decline in memory besides age. For-instance, a poor oral hygiene can cause gum infections which in-turn lead to tooth loss. Such infections can also cause inflammation that can cause neuronal death and memory loss, the researchers said.

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