Dementia. Are dentists protected?
Dementia is due to neurodegenerative brain diseases that occur more frequently at increasing age.
Dentists’ education and challenging tasks constitute a cognitive reserve that, together with continued physical and mental training after working age, can, to some extent, prevent or delay dementia.
Dementia is a common term for diseases of the brain expressed as the loss of cognitive abilities and activities of daily living. The most frequent reason is Alzheimer’s disease, followed by vasculary dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies and mixed types. The number of persons with dementia is increasing due to the aging population in the developed countries, as the risk of dementia is higher in the very old age groups.
In addition to genetic components, research indicates that well known risk factors for heart disease also are of significance in the development of dementia.
On the other hand, educational length and demanding tasks may be protective factors.
Data derived from epidemiological and interventional studies indicate that physical activity and all kinds of mental challenges are of value to preserve cognitive function at older age.
Norwegian dentists may live up to 30 years after they retire, facing age-derived increased risk of dementia. No data are available concerning the occurrence of dementia in this group. However, retired dentists may profit from their education and demanding tasks during working age.
Moreover, there are also reasons to claim that continued physical activity and mental challenges beyond retiring age are important factors to preserve an intact cognitive function.