Do you remember as a child being told to ‘chew your food properly’?
You may have been told it was to prevent you from choking – or to help you develop better manners…
Research now shows this advice to chew well was wise for even more reasons!
Whether or not your parents knew it, their insistence on unrushed mastication (chewing) had important benefits over and above good table manners.
According to scientific researchers (1), if you chew thoroughly, you improve your brain’s ability to grasp new concepts, or remember those you’ve read about or been taught before. There also appears to be a link between mastication and the delayed onset of dementia among the more advanced in age.
Benefits of chewing to boost brain function
Well-functioning teeth support a well-functioning brain
In a survey(2), people with occlusal disharmony (misalignment of teeth on the jaw) were found to suffer from suppressed memory functions as compared to those with a full set of natural teeth. Their reduced mastication as a result of improper occlusion was found to hinder activity in the hippocampus. This is the part of the brain linked with memory.
Subjects in another study who had a full set of natural teeth performed better than their counterparts who wore dentures.
Oral health and cognitive decline with advancing age
People of more advanced age who suffer from reduced cognitive function tend to take less care of their oral health and become more susceptible to conditions like periodontitis. This, in turn, affects their ability to masticate effectively, which, in turn, further affects their brain function. They end up in a vicious cycle of steadily declining cognitive ability and oral hygiene.
Further studies have established a link between tooth loss caused by periodontal disease and Alzheimer’s Disease(3). People who experienced tooth loss were found to be more at risk of developing AD later in life. One of the key symptoms of this condition is steadily declining cognitive ability.
Maintain good oral hygiene – your brain depends on it
The fact that chewing makes a significant contribution to your cognitive ability should encourage you to make your oral hygiene a priority.
The examples above highlight the importance of your teeth to the healthy functioning of your brain.
Roxane A. F. Weijenberg, Suzanne Delwel, Bach Van Ho, Claar D. van der Maarel-Wierink, Frank Lobbezoo, Mind your teeth – The relationship between mastication and cognition, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/ger.12380