On topic with Dr. Dill: brushing and flossing may lower dementia risk

A recent review of multiple studies looked at potential links between your brain’s health and periodontal disease. The review focused on whether periodontal issues like gum disease, tooth loss and bone loss could have a negative influence on your long-term cognitive health. Your cognitive health is your brain’s ability to clearly think, learn and remember.

Across many studies, the review found that poor periodontal health and tooth loss seem to increase the risk of both dementia and mental decline. However, further direct studies are still needed to draw firm conclusions. One thing we do know for certain, though, is that good oral health is a critical part of one’s overall health. The two can’t be separated.

The link between a healthy smile and a healthy brain

So, what is the potential connection? Several factors have been suggested.


Although more research is needed, inflammation from periodontal disease may contribute to brain inflammation and difficulty thinking, remembering and learning.


Bacteria from periodontal disease left unchecked, can travel from your mouth to other parts of your body including your brain.

Missing teeth

Tooth loss can make chewing difficult and limit healthy food options, reducing the consumption of vitamins that support brain health.

Socioeconomic conditions

Those without access to dental care or unable to afford it are more likely to have periodontal issues, tooth loss, and other oral health problems.

Good oral health is critical for good overall health

Studies continue to reveal connections between your teeth, your gums, and your total health and well-being. Links have also been found between oral health and your risk for diabetes, heart disease, and some forms of cancer.

Maintain a healthy smile

The connection between oral health and dementia is relevant to most of us, because almost half of adults over the age of 30 have some form of periodontal disease. But you can do your part to protect your oral and overall health by brushing twice daily with fluoride toothpaste, flossing daily and visiting the dentist for preventive care.

Meet Joseph Dill, DDS, Delta Dental’s Chief Dental Officer. With more than 30 years of experience in the dental field, including eight in private and public health practice and 20 in dental insurance, Dr. Dill provides expert insights and helpful advice to keep you smiling bright.