There are many reasons to floss your teeth regularly – led by preventing dental decay, maintaining heart health, and reducing the risk of diabetes. But let’s add another important reason to the list, which is, reducing the likelihood of cognitive decline.

Researchers at New York University’s Rory Meyers College of Nursing say their analysis of 14 studies on tooth loss and cognitive impairment suggests that good oral habits, especially flossing, may prevent dementia. After combing through research that involved over 34,000 people and 4,689 cases of diminished cognitive function, the results indicated that adults with tooth loss had a 1.48 times higher risk of cognitive impairment and 1.28 times higher risk of dementia.

This was concluded after controlling other factors that could have influenced the data. The explanations were several. Researchers said that missing teeth can affect chewing and, hence, may lead to diets short on key nutrients for brain health. Oral inflammation can also suggest the presence of inflammation in the brain, possibly leading to impairment. Tooth loss may also result from “lifelong socioeconomic disadvantages,” including poor nutrition and lack of medical/dental care, setting the stage for future cognitive decline.

The conclusion?
Researchers confirm that oral health is key to overall good health.