Sudoku, green tea, exercise and Omega-3s are just some suggestions we hear today on how to improve our cognitive functioning [source: Cassels]. But studies show that we should add teeth brushing to that list as well. Gum disease has been shown to have an effect on cognitive dysfunction, which is associated with Alzheimer's disease.
In 2010, the American Dental Association released reports on a study by New York University's College of Dentistry. The NYU researchers, along with Danish colleagues, had tested 152 people to evaluate cognitive abilities later in life. Using a test called the Digit Symbol Test (DST) which measures adult IQ, the researchers found a relationship between people with periodontal swelling and people with low DST scores at age 70. In fact, participants with gum inflammation were nine times more likely to test on the low end than those without these oral health issues. According to Dr. Angela Kamer, the NYU lead on the study, people with "periodontal inflammation are at an increased risk of lower cognitive function compared to cognitively normal subjects" [source: American Dental Association].
A British study reported in Prevention Magazine also supported these findings. The team studied thousands of adults between ages 20 and 59 and found that gingivitis and advanced gum disease were connected with poor cognitive function and health -- not just in advanced age but throughout adulthood [source: Svoboda].
Our final benefit will be of special interest to men.