Researchers say keeping your teeth brushed and flossed can help preserve memory.
The study at West Virginia University has found a link between gum disease and memory loss.
"Older people might want to know there's more reason to keep their mouths clean, to brush and floss, than ever," said Richard Crout, D.M.D., Ph.D., an expert on gum disease and associate dean for research in the WVU School of Dentistry.
"You'll not only be more likely to keep your teeth, but you'll also reduce your risk of heart attack, stroke and memory loss.
"This could have great implications for health of our aging populations," Crout said.
"With rates of Alzheimer's skyrocketing, imagine the benefits of knowing that keeping the mouth free of infection could cut down on cases of dementia," he added.
The team conducted their research on 270 elderly aged 70 and older. They were given oral exams and memory test.
The findings revealed that 23 percent of the group suffers from mild to moderate memory loss.
"If you have a gum infection, you'll have an increased level of inflammatory byproducts," Crout explained.
"We're looking for markers in the blood that show inflammation to see if there is a link to memory problems.
"We'd like to go full circle and do an intervention, to clean up some of the problems in the mouth and then see if the inflammatory markers go down," he added.