Updated 11/27/2012 11:15 AM
Poor Chewing Habits Can Impede Memory In Elders, Study Finds
A new study has found a link between poor chewing habits and dementia in senior citizens. NY1's Cheryl Wills filed the following report.
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For senior citizens, it's not what you eat but how well you chew it. A new study suggests poor chewing ability may increase the risk of mental impairment.
Swedish researchers studied more than five hundred elderly patients over the age of 76 and measured their brain functioning with tooth loss, specifically their ability to eat hard foods like apples. They found that seniors who did not chew their food thoroughly were more like to suffer cognitive impairment like confusion and problems remembering.
This news comes as no surprise to Queens Dentist Dr. Cecilia LaRoche. She says many of her senior patients have problems chewing because of dentures.
"They are very uncomfortable, they're bulky, they're large, they don't fit right sometimes," notes LaRoche.
The study, which was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, also found an increased cognitive risk for seniors who had their natural teeth, emphasizing that it was poor chewing that was critical factor that caused reduced blood flow to the brain -- with or without dentures.
"If they're not chewing and biting properly then they're going to have problems," says LaRoche.
Another study by researchers in California also found a link between dementia and poor brushing habits. Women in particular were found to have a 65 percent higher risk of memory loss compared with those who brushed their teeth every day.
Experts say it's important to chew thoroughly and brush vigorously to prevent mental deterioration later in life.