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Tooth loss leads to blindness?

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DrAnil's picture
Joined: 12 Nov 2011

 Can tooth loss lead to blindness?


New research reveals a possible link between oral health and age-related blindness.
ToothbrushesThe study found that poor oral health was linked to blindness

Gum disease has already been linked with the onset of Alzheimer's disease and now new research suggests that tooth loss is linked with age-related macular degeneration.

Tooth loss can occur as people age because the jaw bone recedes and so the teeth are unsupported, and as a result they fall out. But more often, tooth loss is the result of gum disease or decay.

Research published in the Journal of Periodontology found that men who had experienced tooth loss were four times more likely to suffer with age-related blindness when compared to the general population.

Age-related macular degeneration occurs when the macula begins to deterioriate, causing a person's vision to become less sharp.

While some of the relationship between tooth loss and age-related blindness can be put down to common risk factors such as smoking or excessive alcohol intake, the researchers took those risk factors into account and still found that poor oral health was linked to blindness. The same significant result was not seen for women, however.

"What the study does show is how important it is to maintain good gum health," says Dr Nigel Carter OBE, chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation.

"More teeth are lost through long-standing gum disease than through tooth decay. Those who may be at risk of going blind may find their teeth are naturally looser than some of their younger counterparts, but ignoring the problem is not the answer.

“Untreated gum disease can lead to bacteria getting into the bloodstream and causing heart and respiratory problems... it is particularly important for older people to brush twice a day for two minutes at a time using a fluoride toothpaste and to clean in between the teeth at least once a day with interdental brushes or dental floss."

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