The CDC reports that almost half of adults in the United States have a form of gum disease, also known as periodontitis or periodontal disease. For adults over 65, this number increases to 70%. This rampant disease is largely preventable, yet the subtle signs and symptoms in the early stages leave many patients unaware that…
Is Alzheimer’s Disease Linked to Gum Disease?
It has been discovered that those with gum disease that is recurrent for over a decade may have a higher risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. gum disease, also known as periodontitis, is characterized by chronic inflammation of the gums. Periodontitis is also associated with whole-body inflammation and can exhibit symptoms that reach beyond the mouth.
In short, chronic gum disease has been linked to a decline in cognitive ability. This connection shines a light on the importance of spreading awareness for senior dental health.
What is Alzheimer's disease?
Alzheimer's is a progressive disease that destroys important mental functions like memory. Confusion and memory loss are the main symptoms associated with Alzheimer's. This disease mainly affects those over 55, although early-onset Alzheimer's can present at a younger age.
Gum disease in older patients
Older adults may experience gum disease more often than their younger counterparts. The enamel can start to deteriorate over time as we age. This lowers the first line of defense on teeth and can promote plaque buildup. When the tooth structure is threatened, the gingival tissue surrounding teeth can be compromised.
It is imperative that oral hygiene is never overlooked. Good oral health at a young age and continuing into older years can encourage optimal heart health, mental health and full body health.
Periodontitis and Alzheimer's
Avoiding Alzheimer's disease depends on many different factors. Some have a genetic predisposition for the disease. Even if an individual has a family history of Alzheimer's, the disease can be prevented or delayed by avoiding periodontitis and making healthy lifestyle changes.
When a patient has periodontitis, there is a large amount of bacteria accumulated on the gumline. This bacteria can enter the bloodstream during daily activities like chewing. Once bacteria are in the bloodstream, they can be carried to other parts of the body. Eventually, these bacteria can reach the brain and trigger an immune system response. This response is a possible reason for the changes in the brain associated with Alzheimer's.
Alzheimer's has also been linked to full-body inflammation, another indicator of chronic gum disease. Periodontitis can not only trigger Alzheimer's early but can even make the existing disease worse.
However, this connection could work the other way around. Instead of gum disease causing Alzheimer's to develop, those with the disease could have worse oral health as a result. Therefore, the bacteria in the brain could be the result of Alzheimer's, not the cause.
How to avoid gum disease
Keeping the mind sharp could mean more than doing the daily Sudoku. An unhealthy mouth is directly linked to a variety of other health issues in the body, so it is no surprise that the adverse effects can even reach the mind.
An excellent oral health routine starts with brushing teeth twice a day and flossing once daily. Dental cleanings every six months are another important step in staving off a lifetime of gum disease. Introducing healthy foods into the diet which support dental health can help to reinforce overall oral health.
Request an appointment here: https://www.lilburnfamilydentistry.com or call Lilburn Family Dentistry at (770) 800-0178 for an appointment in our Lilburn office.
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