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Fighting Tooth (And Nail) For Your Mental And Physical Abilities Later In Life

“Fighting Tooth and Nail” is a phrase that has several meanings. I prefer the ones that indicate using all your resources to get something you want or to use every possible means to overcome something to those that discuss combat.


Could fighting to save your teeth help your cognitive (thinking) and physical activity abilities when you get older? A new study out of England suggests that people 60 and older who have lost all their teeth did worse with their memory and walking skills than people the same age who had most or at least some of their own teeth.


Considering that some of the current research into dementia is focusing on inflammation as a cause, there may be more to this study than you might think. Inflammation is denoted with the ending “–itis”. Think gingivitis and periodontitis which affect your gums and are a common reason for tooth loss in adults.


Inflammation is a body process where white blood cells and products they produce try to protect you from infection by foreign organisms. This is what happens in the mouth. Sometimes the body gets it wrong and starts the protective process even though there are no foreign invaders—the body is, in essence, attacking itself. We call these autoimmune disorders.


In the mouth, plaque and calculus/tartar trap bacteria against your teeth and gums. These bacteria are what triggers the inflammatory response that leads to gingivitis and periodontitis. The best ways to prevent gingivitis and periodontitis are to brush your teeth at least twice a day with a soft toothbrush and a toothpaste that has the ADA Seal, floss your teeth at least once a day, and see your dentist at least twice a year (possibly more often if you develop periodontitis). Your dentist or his/her employees can remove any hardened buildup (calculus/tartar) from your teeth—this is the only way to remove this material—even a hard toothbrush will not remove the material once it has hardened.


Is possibly preserving your cognitive abilities worth the cost of getting your teeth cleaned twice a year? Is the possibility of a better lifestyle in your old age worth fighting tooth and nail to obtain, even if it costs a bit more to save a tooth than to have it removed?

*Note: The information in this article is not meant to replace the clinical judgement of your healthcare professionals.

Dr. Jennifer Robb is a general dentist who would like to see you preserve your teeth. She is accepting new patients of all ages at her office at 1320 Cooper Foster Park Rd., Lorain, OH 44053. Reserve your appointment time by calling 440-960-1940 today. You can also contact Dr. Robb through the contact form on her website at www.drjrobb.com