Sadly, an estimated 5.7 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer’s disease and another 500,000 will be diagnosed with the condition each year. Medical doctors and researchers have been studying the causes and potential treatments for decades and have made great strides in understanding this disease.
In fact, a surprising link has recently been made between Alzheimer’s and gum disease. That means it’s more important than ever to see a dentist in Pensacola regularly to make sure you have healthy teeth and healthy gums. Keep reading to learn more about this important research and how you can improve your gum health!
How Is Gum Disease Linked to Alzheimer’s?
One of the common denominators between gum disease and Alzheimer’s is inflammation. In fact, the earliest stage of gum disease, called gingivitis, literally means “inflamed gums.” One of the leading theories on this link is that inflammation in the mouth leads to inflammation in the brain.
The cause of inflamed gums is bacteria, which is largely what plaque and tartar are made of. When someone doesn’t do well with brushing and flossing, the bacteria they leave behind can lead to chronic inflammation and gum disease.
Furthermore, when plaque and tartar are trapped under the gumline, bacteria easily enters the bloodstream and travels throughout the entire body, including the brain.
In one study, researchers found that patients who have had gum disease for over 10 years have a 70% higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease than those who have never had gum disease.
In another study, the same strain of bacteria that cause gum disease were actually found in the brain of patients with Alzheimer’s. More studies are being done to establish this link, but the evidence found so far has been very compelling.
How Can You Improve Your Gum Health?
The good news is that there are some simple things you can do right away to reduce inflammation in your mouth and improve your gum health.
- Practice good hygiene – The goal is to do as well as you can with your brushing and flossing, so don’t worry if your hygiene routine isn’t perfect! For example, even flossing 4-5 times a week is much more beneficial than not at all.
- See a dentist regularly – Regular checkups and cleanings with a Pensacola dentist are crucial to your gum health. Not only will a professional remove hard-to-reach plaque and tartar from under your gumline, they’ll also monitor your gums and recommend proactive treatment as needed. This way, you can make sure that early stages of gum disease don’t develop into more serious, chronic forms of the disease.
Although the link between gum disease and Alzheimer’s is daunting, you can use these guidelines to keep your gums and brain healthy at the same time!
About the Author
Dr. Benjamin Hodges is a strong advocate for dental health as well as its impact on overall health. From providing multiple gum therapy treatments to helping his patients improve their home hygiene, he makes gum health a priority. If you have any questions, he can be reached via his website or at (850) 478-4260.