It’s National Dental Hygiene Month here in the U.S.
You might not think that’s particularly relevant to brain health–but it is. Research has found that people with poor dental health suffer from higher rates of memory loss than people who brush their teeth regularly. And scientists in Europe found that losing adult teeth is correlated with a loss in certain types of memories.
While the connection between teeth and memory is still not completely understood, some scientists have suggested that periodontal bacteria may lead to increased inflammation in the body and brain—which could affect brain areas related to memory. One study found that people with Alzheimer’s who also have gum disease experience more rapid cognitive decline. Another study found that healthy functional teeth and good oral health practices are associated with a lower risk of dementia.
We all know that for optimum dental hygiene, we should brush and floss regularly, replace our toothbrushes several times a year, and have regular dental appointments. For an added brain boost, try brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand (so using your left hand if you’re right-handed, or vice versa). Using your non-dominant hand for everyday tasks can challenge and surprise the brain in positive ways!