When new memories are received, they are stored in an area associated with learning, known as the hippocampus. As individuals grow older, it is more likely that some will begin to experiences deterioration of hippocampal cells, leading to a loss of cognitive functions, including memory, problem solving and decision-making. Research shows that there is a connection between lack of teeth and loss of cognitive function, leading to a higher risk of memory loss.
Japanese researchers led by Gifu University School of Medicine’s Dr. Minuro Onozuka have genetically manipulated laboratory mice to age prematurely. When this occurred, mice shows signs of aging, including cataracts, hair loss and failing memory. Scientists then had the molar teeth extracted from the mice to keep them from chewing; these mice were placed in a water maze in order to locate a hidden platform. While young mice were able recall the specified location in a water maze, old mice that had their molars taken out were unable to find the location, and constantly went in the wrong direction. The scientists then examined the hippocampus of the old mice and found that cells within the hippocampus, known as glia, had worsened more than usual.
Dr. Onozuka was able to show that chew seems to stimulate the mind, increasing hippocampal signals during activity. The action of chewing actually sends a signal to the hippocampus, which ends up lessening the stress hormone levels in the blood. When older people chew less, their stress levels tend to rise, which can lead to a decline in short-term memory. While research has found a correlation between teeth and memory, it does not mean that they are linked, having a causal effect. However, scientists recommend that individuals chew often, releasing the build up of stress and optimizing the activity of hippocampal signals.
If you have any more questions, feel free to contact Drs. Ali & Ali and the caring team at Wellesley Dental Group if you have any thoughts or concerns; they will be happy to answer your questions! Contact us today at 781-237-9071 or firstname.lastname@example.org to set up an appointment and consultation.