Opportunities for enhancing brain health across the lifespan
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 22 March 2021
As we age, there are characteristic changes in our thinking, reasoning and memory skills (referred to as cognitive ageing). However, variation between people in the timing and degree of change experienced suggests that a range of factors determine individual cognitive ageing trajectories. This narrative review considers some of the lifestyle factors that might promote (or harm) cognitive health. The focus on lifestyle factors is because these are potentially modifiable by individuals or may be the targets of behavioural or societal interventions. To support that, the review briefly considers people’s beliefs and attitudes about cognitive ageing; the nature and timing of cognitive changes across the lifespan; and the genetic contributions to cognitive ability level and change. In introducing potentially modifiable determinants, a framing that draws evidence derived from epidemiological studies of dementia is provided, before an overview of lifestyle and behavioural predictors of cognitive health, including education and occupation, diet and activity.
Good oral health leads to benefits beyond a healthy mouth
People today want to be more in control of their own health and are more attuned to getting the support and information they need online, from apps, and from connected products. Yet there are gaps in both their knowledge and daily commitment to good oral hygiene, and they need help along the way. Depending on lifestage, patient’s oral health concerns can evolve from plaque removal and aesthetics to larger concerns around gum health and disease. Too often, by the time they begin thinking about gum health, it’s too late. Multiple studies have revealed linkages between periodontal diseases and certain systemic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease and kidney disease .
Prevention is key. Along with professional deep cleaning, good daily brushing and interdental cleaning are critical. It’s also important for patients to have regular conversations with their dentist about oral health issues and the linkage to their overall health.