Can Chewing Decrease your Risk for Dementia?

Older Couple OutdoorsChewing is a natural instinct, like breathing. Of course, if you have jaw pain or bite your tongue, the hundreds of times you chew every day without a second thought will suddenly become uncomfortable. As the years pass and people inevitably age, chewing food may no longer remain a given, due to missing teeth and the lack of resources (or desire) to replace them. One scientific research study from the Department of Odontology and the Aging Research Center at the Karolinska Institutet focused on a link between chewing and dementia.

Brain Stimulation, no Matter the Age

These days, more people are living well into their eighties, nineties, and even past 100. Advances in medicine and technology have made it easier to live longer. Unfortunately, our anatomy is not necessarily meant to last that long. Oral health in relation to our overall well-being is referred to as oral-systemic health. The research team at Baylor College of Medicine found that brain function is stimulated through chewing even in young people. In fact, in another study, students who chewed gum while performing school work showed better standardized math scores than a control group which did not chew anything during testing.

Study Conclusions

Chewing increases blood flow to your brain. When someone has missing, or no teeth left in their mouth, they have a decision whether or not to replace them. If you don’t make that effort, you are simply going to chew less. You are likely to stick to softer foods, or even lean towards liquid diet. Less blood flow to the brain is theorized to lead to a rapid descent into dementia for most aging patients. The Swedish scientists at the Karolinska Institutet set out to highlight the impact of tooth loss on brain function. The team collected data and surveys from a total of 557 elderly people over the age of 77. The conclusion of the research led to data showing a higher risk of developing dementia (including Alzheimer’s Disease) seen in patients incapable of masticating hard foods because of missing teeth.

Visit your Sheridan Dentist

To learn about protecting your oral health, schedule a consultation at Grinnell Street Dental by contacting our Sheridan dentist office at (307) 672-7567. We welcome patients from Sheridan, WY and the surrounding communities.