Is gum disease and Alzheimer’s connected?
As I was reviewing the American Academy of Periodontology’s website for new studies and information to keep us informed of research just conducted to help our patients, the information in this article caught my eye and I thought I should share it with you as Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia affect so many of our lives.
Like many of you, I am just as worried and concerned about the disease that has taken so many of our parents/grandparents from us – Alzheimer’s and Dementia. It seems that just when they get to a point in their life to enjoy it, they begin to forget everything that makes life enjoyable. As I get older, I worry about getting this horrible disease just like everyone else. If I can prevent it, I want to learn how – or at least help my odds in prolonging it for as long as I can.
In the article, researchers studied not only living Alzheimer’s patients but deceased as well. They found evidence that if the person had a specific bacteria found with gum disease (or periodontal disease) they were more likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. The actual percentage was staggering – 96% of 53 patients were found with high levels of the pathology and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease¹. The study found that this bacteria increased the production of different plaques that increased the patient’s risk for Alzheimer’s.
During the study, the researchers also tested animals to see if the bacteria present in gum disease could, in fact, travel to the brain. The answer was simple – yes. This bacteria has the ability to travel from the mouth to the brain increasing the risk of destroying brain nerve cells. This could be life-changing for so many of us! Gum disease is treatable which means we can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s or Dementia, especially in many of you who have the disease in the family.
I know, we sound like a broken record – practice good oral hygiene. It has proven to minimize health risks though and we all know how important it is to take care of our teeth. Oral hygiene has the ability to reduce many diseases like diabetes or heart disease and now Alzheimer’s. It’s a scary thought that something so simple, and to many of us insignificant, can cause so many issues in our bodies.
How can you and I keep good oral hygiene? It’s so simple – brush your teeth after each meal (always ideal but not always feasible so at least twice a day). Floss your teeth. Use mouthwash. And at least once a year come to have a conversation with me so we can keep your teeth and gums healthy.
We can work on this together!
¹ American Academy of Periodontology. (2019, January 28). PERIODONTAL DISEASE BACTERIA LINKED TO ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE. Retrieved March 12, 2019, from http://www.perio.org/consumer/alzheimers-and-periodontal-disease