Flossing May Prevent Cognitive Decline

July 10, 2021
Avatar for Kelley MingusKelley Mingus

Flossing. We all know how important it is, but many of us simply don’t do it regularly. There are myriad reasons why we neglect this important step in our oral health care routine, but we are only doing ourselves a disservice when we don’t floss. Flossing doesn’t just clean the roughly 30 percent of our tooth surface that brushing alone cannot reach, it also freshens our breath by removing debris and food particles from between the teeth, and keeps plaque and bacteria away from our gum line.

Flossing isn’t just good for our mouths, it’s good for the overall health of our bodies. That nasty bacteria it clears away has been found to be responsible for medical conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and even Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, according to a new study, flossing your teeth can help stop cognitive decline and keep our brains sharp.

The study was conducted at New York University’s Rory Meyers College of Nursing and found that among 34,074 adults, 4,689 of whom had diminished cognitive function, those who were missing teeth had a 1.48 times higher risk of developing cognitive impairment and 1.28 times higher risk of developing dementia.

Furthermore, among those with missing teeth, those without dentures were also at a higher risk of cognitive decline. While it is not clear why exactly dentures make a difference in cognitive decline, the researchers hypothesize that it could be that those with dentures eat healthier food because they are able to chew those foods properly, thus having an overall better diet. Dentures are also credited by the study’s authors with improving the self-esteem of those who wear them, which could lessen instances of depression.

Now that you know how important flossing is, why not pick up a roll or two for yourself? Flossing is easy and only takes a few minutes each day to complete. Just floss between each tooth at least once per day (preferably in the evening, before you head to bed) and you’ll help not just your teeth and gums, but your whole body. While you’re there, don’t forget to brush twice a day, for two minutes at a time, and of course, visit Dr. Mingus at least once a year for your oral health exam!