Do you roll your eyes when your dentist tells you to floss? You may want to give it a whirl. “Poor oral hygiene can lead to the buildup of bacteria in the mouth, leading to inflammation of the gums [gingivitis], which if left untreated can lead to a chronic infection called periodontitis,” says Hara. A 2022 study found that poor periodontal health and tooth loss appear to increase the risk of both cognitive decline and dementia.
“Bacteria and the inflammatory mediators can make their way from the mouth into the bloodstream and into the brain,” says Hara. Additional research found that people missing many teeth have a 48 percent higher risk of cognitive impairment and a 28 percent higher risk of dementia.
The American Dental Association recommends brushing your teeth twice per day with a fluoride toothpaste for two minutes per session, flossing daily, limiting sugary beverages and snacks, and keeping up with dentist appointments.