You wouldn't think there was a link between how well you look after your teeth now and the development of memory problems such as Alzheimer's disease later in life, would you? But it seems there is. At least that's the finding of a study by Japanese scientists, whose work is published in the journal Behavioural and Brain Functions.
The study, which involved more than 4,200 Japanese people over the age of 65 having a full dental examination and psychological tests, discovered those who had lost the most teeth had the greatest risk of having problems from memory loss to early-stage Alzheimer's.
The study's lead author, Dr Nozomi Okamoto, has a theory why tooth loss - which is caused by gum disease - could affect your brain. Infections in the gums, he says, may cause inflammation, including inflammation in the brain. And that could lead to memory loss.
It's not the first time poor dental health has been linked with other health problems. "The links between oral health problems such as gum disease and conditions like heart disease, strokes, diabetes and, in the case of pregnant women, low birth weight babies, for instance, has all been well documented and is backed by robust scientific evidence," explains Dr Nigel Carter of the British Dental Health Foundation.
It sounds like we can add memory problems to that list now too.
If you have toothache, why not get some relief from natural remedies while you're waiting for your appointment at the dentist's?