Poor oral hygiene causes more than just problems with your teeth and gums. Neglecting your oral health also puts you at an increased risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Studies Behind Alzheimer’s and Poor Oral Health
Multiple studies link chronic periodontitis with an increased risk of dementia-related disorders, like Alzheimer’s. A March 2019 study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society shows that people with prolonged severe gum disease are six percent more likely to develop vascular dementia. Unlike previous studies, this study also took lifestyle factors into account. That means alcohol usages, smoking, and exercise did not seem to impact the connection between dementia and gum disease.
Other studies of animals and humans also link dementia with gum disease. For example, some research shows that exposure to periodontal bacteria leads to the development of plaque in the brain that’s associated with the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Other studies show that people with gum disease for a decade or longer are 70 percent more likely to develop dementia.
What’s The Connection?
The connection between dementia and gum disease isn’t completely understood. Dementia following chronic gum disease may result from the body’s response to a long-term fight against infection. When your gums are infected, your body’s immune system tries to fight off the foreign invader. If your gums are infected over a period of years, your body spends that time constantly trying to kill off the infection in your gums.
Your body becomes weaker. This allows the bacteria in your mouth to enter your bloodstream. Researchers identified the bacteria that’s found in the mouths of people with periodontitis (Porphyromonas gingivalis) in the brains of people with dementia. Therefore, they theorize the presence of these bacteria causes nerve cell death and possibly memory loss.
What Causes Periodontitis?
Periodontitis is unfortunately quite common. The disease is caused by a bacterial infection that causes inflammation of the gums and the tissues. While many bacteria live in the human mouth, their number can increase dramatically. This leads to inflammation and infection. Bacteria growth is triggered when pieces of food aren’t removed from the teeth. This creates plaque on and between teeth. Plaque growth produces toxins that trigger inflammation in the gums. If left untreated, periodontitis leads to bone and tooth loss, if not removed by a periodontist.
Can Periodontitis Be Prevented?
The good news is that periodontitis is easily prevented. The disease usually begins as gingivitis. Gingivitis is highly treatable with the right oral hygiene routine. One of the first signs of gingivitis is bleeding gums. So, be sure to talk to your dentist if you notice blood after brushing or flossing.
To prevent gum disease, be sure to follow a thorough oral care routine at home and get a checkup at least twice a year.
At home care tips include:
- Brush at least twice a day, especially after meals.
- Floss, floss, floss. No amount of brushing is a substitute for flossing.
- If you can’t stand flossing, use an interdental pick or flosser to clean between your teeth.
- Use a water cleaning device daily to ensure you’ve removed all the plaque on your teeth.
Is Periodontitis Treatment Available?
Our periodontist in Vero Beach FL can help restore your mouth to good health. Our periodontist can decrease your chances of further health problems resulting from chronic gum disease. To avoid recurrence, periodontal patients must be continuously treated. They must also see a periodontist at least once a year. In this way, your periodontist will help save your teeth and avoid the need for dental implants.
Contact us today for an appointment to get started on the path to good oral health!