If you want to know how likely you are to lose your memory, look no further than your mouth! Here's why:

A new study followed 2,463 adults over the age of 65. Most of these adults (1,569) lived in care homes, and the rest lived in private households. The researchers interviewed each of the participants, asking their age, sex, level of education, disability, body mass index, dental status, and their cognitive function.

The researchers found that less than half of the community sample (40.4%) and 67.9% of the care-home sample were missing teeth. And those who were missing teeth had three-and-a-half times greater risk of cognitive decline than those who kept their teeth. The researchers concluded that missing teeth is a major risk factor for memory loss.

It's not clear from this study if it's the missing teeth themselves or the consequences of lost teeth. I think it could be both. Lost teeth impair your ability to chew and extract nutrients from your food. The inflammatory processes leading to lost teeth could impact your brain and the blood flow to it.

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We already know that periodontal disease is a major risk factor for heart disease. It also causes tooth loss. And now we know it causes memory loss and other cognitive problems. So make sure you take care of your teeth. Able dentists are devoted to sparing your teeth. Get your dental health checked regularly.

If you have a lot of dental problems and notice your memory isn't working as well as it should, there's one important step you must take immediately. You need to eliminate all high-glycemic foods from your diet. This includes all sugars, sweets, fruit (and especially fruit juice), and flour and potato products (including chips, bread, pancakes, etc.). All of these increase your blood sugar, which wreaks havoc on your teeth and your brain.

Ref: J Am Geriatr Soc. 2007 Sep;55(9):1410-4.

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