Poor oral health can contribute to deteriorating brain health (2023)

Research Highlights:

  • Adults who are genetically prone to poor oral health may be more likely to show signs of declining brain health than those with healthy teeth and gums.
  • Treating poor oral health early can result in significant brain health benefits.

Embargo until 4:00AM CT/5:00AM ET Thursday, February 2, 2023

DALLAS, Feb. 2, 2023 - Taking care of your teeth and gums can offer benefits that go beyond oral health such as: B. an improvementbrain health, according to preliminary research to be presented at the American Stroke Association's 2023 International Stroke Conference. The meeting, being held February 8-10, 2023 in Dallas, in person and virtually, is a world-leading gathering for researchers and clinicians exploring the science of stroke and brain health.

Studies have shown that gum disease, missing teeth and other signs of poor oral health are increasing, as well as poor brushing habits and lack of plaque removalstroke risk. According to the American Stroke Association, stroke is the fifth leading cause of death and a leading cause of disability in the United States. Previous research has also found that gum disease and other oral health issues are associated with risk factors for heart disease and other conditions such as:high blood pressure.

"What is unclear is whether poor oral health affects brain health, which is the functional state of a person's brain, which we can now better understand with imaging techniques such as magnetic resonance imaging or MRI," said study author Cyprien Rivier , M.D., M.S., a postdoctoral researcher in neurology at Yale School of Medicine at New Haven, Connecticut. "The study of oral health is particularly important because poor oral health is common and an easily modifiable risk factor - anyone can effectively improve their oral health with minimal investment of time and money."

Just as a healthy lifestyle affects your risk of heart disease and stroke, it also affects brain health, which includes the ability to remember things, think clearly, and function in life. According to the latest estimates from the American Stroke Association, a division of the American Heart Association, three out of five people in the United States will develop a brain disease during their lifetime.

Between 2014 and 2021, researchers in this study analyzed the potential association between oral health and brain health in approximately 40,000 adults (46% males, median age 57 years) with no history of stroke registered in the UK Biobank. Participants were examined for 105 genetic variants known to predispose individuals to having tooth decay, dentures and missing teeth later in life and the relationship between exposure to these genetic risk factors for poor oral health and the health of the patient brain was assessed.

Signs of poor brain health were examined using MRI images of the participants' brains: white matter hyperintensities, defined as accumulated damage in the brain's white matter that can affect memory, balance and mobility; and microstructural damage, i. H. the extent to which the fine architecture of the brain has changed compared to images for a normal brain scan of a healthy adult of similar age.

The analysis revealed:

  • People who were genetically prone to tooth decay, missing teeth, or dentures had a higher burden of silent cerebrovascular disease, represented by a 24% increase in white matter hyperintensities visible on MRI images.
  • Those with overall genetically poor oral health had increased damage to the fine architecture of the brain, represented by a 43% change in microstructural damage scores visible on MRI scans. Microstructural damage scores are whole-brain summaries of the damage sustained by the subtle architecture of each brain region.

"Poor oral health can lead to deteriorating brain health, so we need to be extra careful about our oral hygiene as it has ramifications well beyond the mouth," Rivier said. "However, this study is preliminary and more evidence needs to be gathered - ideally through clinical trials - to confirm that improving oral health in the population will result in brain health benefits."

The analysis was limited by the fact that the UK Biobank only includes people living in the UK who are predominantly of European descent (94% of UK Biobank participants reported their race as white versus 6% who reported mixed race, black British were indicated, Asian, British or other). In addition, more research is needed among people from different racial and ethnic backgrounds.

American Stroke Association, a division of the American Heart Association, Stroke Council member and honorary expert Joseph P. Broderick, M.D., FAHA, Professor in the Department of Neurology and Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Cincinnati and Director of the Gardner Neuroscience Institute at the University of Cincinnati Cincinnati, Ohio, said while the study results don't show dental hygiene improves brain health, the results are "intriguing" and should spur more research.

“Environmental factors such as smoking and health problems such as diabetes are much stronger risk factors for poor oral health than any genetic marker – with the exception of rare genetic conditions associated with poor oral health such as: B. broken or missing enamel,” said Broderick. “It remains good advice to pay attention to oral hygiene and health. However, because people with poor brain health are less likely to pay attention to good oral health than people with normal brain health, proving cause and effect is impossible. Also, genetic profiles for increased oral health risk may overlap with genetic risk factors for other chronic health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, stroke, infections, etc., which are known to be associated with brain imaging markers.” Broderick was not involved to learn.

Co-authors are Daniela Renedo, M.D.; Adam H. de Havenon, M.D., M.S.C.I.; Sam Pyabvash, MD; Kevin N Sheth, MD; and Guido J. Falcone, M.D., Sc.D., M.P.H. Author information is given in the abstract.

The study was funded by the American Heart Association through the Bugher Center for Hemorrhagic Stroke Research Network (AHA grant #817874). The British Biobank data was accessed via project application 58743.

Statements and conclusions of studies presented at American Heart Association scientific meetings are solely those of the study authors and do not necessarily reflect the policies or position of the Association. The Association makes no representations or warranties as to their accuracy or reliability. Abstracts presented at the Association's scientific meetings are not peer-reviewed, but are curated by independent review boards and considered based on their potential to expand the diversity of scientific topics and views discussed at the meeting. Results are considered preliminary pending publication in full manuscript in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

The association is mainly financed by individuals; Foundations and corporations (including pharmaceutical companies, device manufacturers, and other corporations) also make donations and sponsor specific programs and events of the association. The Association has strict policies to prevent these relationships from influencing scholarly content. Revenues from pharmaceutical and biotech companies, device manufacturers and health insurance companies as well as the entire financial information of the association are availablehere.

Additional Resources:

  • video perspectiveby American Stroke Association volunteer expert Joseph P. Broderick, M.D., FAHA, and additional multimedia content is available in the right column of the publication linkhttps://newsroom.heart.org/news/poor-oral-health-may-contribute-to-declines-in-brain-health?preview=3775f290c7c9c8d8377e78cb8d00e8c2
  • Spanish press release
  • Abstracts to the ASA International Stroke Conference 2023 online scheduler
  • AHA-News-Story:Health conditions that a dentist can diagnose that have nothing to do with your teeth(August 2022)
  • AHA-News-Story:Could the road to better brain health include better oral care?(November 2021)
  • AHA press release:Gum disease, inflammation and hardened arteries can be linked to a risk of stroke(Feb. 2020)
  • For more updates on the ASA International Stroke Conference 2023, follow us on Twitter@HeartNews #ISC23

The American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference (ISC) is the world's premier gathering dedicated to the science and management of cerebrovascular disease. ISC 2023 will take place February 8-10, 2023 in Dallas, in person and virtually. The three-day conference will feature more than a thousand compelling presentations in categories focused on basic, clinical and translational sciences as research advances toward a better understanding of stroke pathophysiology with the goal of developing more effective therapies. Join the International Stroke Conference on social media via#ISC23.

About the American Stroke Association

The American Stroke Association is dedicated to saving people from stroke - the second leading cause of death worldwide and a leading cause of serious disability. We work with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide life-saving tools and information to prevent and treat stroke. The Dallas-based association was officially incorporated in 1998 as a division of the American Heart Association. To learn more or get involved, call 1-888-4STROKE or visit usSchlaganfall.org. follow us onFacebook,Twitter.


For media inquiries and AHA expert perspective:

Dallas AHA Communications and Media Relations: 214-706-1173;ahacommunications@heart.org

Karen Astle: 214-706-1392;Karen.astle@heart.org

For Public Inquiries: 1-800-AHA-USA1 (242-8721)


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