This connection certainly is interesting, and their study shows that this lack of memory recall may be due to reduced sensory input to the nervous system through connective fibers that attach teeth to the bone in the jaw. Another cause they present could be these people avoid certain foods, leading to a lower intake of vitamins, proteins and calories.
"A gap-toothed grin is one of the risks of growing older, and absent-mindedness is another – but the two could go hand-in-hand. Research suggests that losing our teeth is actually a cause of memory loss. Sensory impulses created by the movement of our jaw and teeth are fed to the area of the brain that forms and retrieves memories, say scientists.
Those without their own teeth produce fewer signals to be sent to this region, which is called the hippocampus.
Losing your teeth as you age can damage your memory - this could be because people who are missing teeth may avoid certain foods meaning they miss out on vital nutrients.
The number of teeth an individual has is linked ‘uniquely and significantly’ to their performance on tests of episodic memory, where they recall events from the past, and semantic memory, involving factual information.
After taking other factors into account, older people with most of their own teeth had on average a 4 per cent better memory than those without, the study found. However, the results could also be down to chewing, which increases blood flow in the brain.
The research, published online by the European Journal of Oral Sciences, involved 273 participants, aged 55 to 80 and was carried out by universities in Norway and Sweden.
The average number of natural teeth each participant had was 22 - 10 fewer than the full dentition of 32. More than 70 per cent of all missing teeth were molars.
Participants then faced a series of memory tests.
False teeth improve memory somewhat but do not restore it to the level it would have been at without the loss of any teeth
‘In line with the stated hypothesis, the number of natural teeth was positively associated with performance on episodic memory, recall as well as recognition,’ wrote the authors from Umea University and Stockholm University in Sweden, and the Institute of Clinical Dentistry in Tromsx, Norway.
‘Alone, number of natural teeth could account for 20 per cent of the variance in episodic recall, 15 per cent of the variance in episodic recognition, and 14 per cent of the variance in semantic memory.’
The researchers suggested reduced sensory input from our teeth could be damaging our memory. Although artificial dental implants ‘can restore sensory input to some extent’, they still result in fewer signals to the brain.
Another interpretation hinges on general chewing ability. Chewing increases blood flow in the brain and has been shown to increase activity in numerous brain areas.
The authors said it is possible brain activity changes because people lacking teeth and denture wearers avoid certain foods, leading to lower intakes of vitamins, proteins and calories.
A study last year linked clean teeth to staving off dementia. Researchers at the University of California who followed nearly 5,500 elderly people over an 18-year-period found those who brushed their teeth less than once a day were up to 65 per cent more likely to develop dementia than those who brushed three times a day.
Some studies have also found that people with Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, have more gum disease-related bacteria in their brains than others. It’s thought that gum disease bacteria might get into the brain, causing inflammation and brain damage."
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2344556/Losing-teeth-damage-memory-Those-fewer-gnashers-able-past-experiences.html#ixzz2fpxEOEoH
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