Diseased teeth are a burden for the entire body – sometimes with serious consequences. A meta-study from Finland now confirms another risk factor: gingivitis and tooth loss promote cognitive diseases such as dementia. What you need to know.

Various studies have already shown that healthy teeth are not only essential for a well-groomed appearance but also for general physical health. For example, diseased teeth can impair the immune system and cause pain throughout the body.

However, a new Finnish meta-analysis of various international studies now shows that dead or fallen out teeth can promote the development of dementia – one of the most feared diseases of old age. In Germany, 1.7 million people are currently ill, according to the Federal Ministry of Health, the number in Germany is increasing by 40,000 a year. Research into the possible causes of the cognitive disorder is therefore all the more important.

The Finnish researchers examined 47 different studies on the subject of dementia and dental hygiene – including a study by New York University from 2021, which already examined several international studies on the subject with a total of more than 30,000 subjects. The result at that time:

In addition to the increased risk of cognitive diseases, it was also shown that the severity of tooth loss has an impact on the risk of developing dementia. Accordingly, people who have lost many teeth are more at risk than people who have lost a few teeth. With every lost tooth, the risk of a dementia diagnosis increases by 1.1 percent, the research team writes in the study.

But there was also one positive finding: As the researchers emphasize, dentures can have a beneficial effect on cognitive health. Adults without dentures for lost teeth are more likely to develop cognitive disorders than people who have dentures. The latter did not even show an increased risk of cognitive impairment.

The other studies examined in the Finnish study underscore the results of the US researchers: the likelihood of mental deterioration in people with bad teeth or poor oral health is increased by 23 percent. The risk of dementia is also 21 percent higher than the average risk of subjects with healthy teeth.

The increased risk of cognitive diseases can be primarily attributed to possible gum disease and tooth loss. The researchers justify this in their report as follows:

In addition, all teeth are connected to the body via nerves and blood vessels, so that bacteria and their toxins can get into the body, for example in the case of gum or tooth root inflammation. A diseased tooth is therefore able to weaken the entire body, which is also confirmed by the German Dental Journal ZWR. Individual tooth regions are even connected to different organs:

It is therefore important to take gum diseases – including periodontosis – and tooth loss seriously and to counteract them as best as possible. The researchers also emphasize this in their current report:

“The association between the number of missing teeth and the risk of impaired cognitive function reinforces the evidence for the relationship between tooth loss and cognitive impairment. There is also evidence that tooth loss may even predict cognitive decline,” the report said. So the key is good dental care and oral hygiene. But what does this look like?

You can find more tips on how to clean your teeth properly here.