August 5, 2017
You probably know that Alzheimer’s is a disease that causes memory loss and the loss of other important mental functions. But did you know it’s the sixth leading cause of death in the US? Or that there’s a link between long-term gum disease and Alzheimer’s? That’s true, report a team of Taiwanese researchers in a recent issue of Alzheimer’s Research and Therapy. Keep reading to learn more on the study and its impact from your dentist in Carrollton.
About the Study
Using data from Taiwan’s National Health Insurance Research Database, the team researched to find out if patients over the age of 50 who had periodontal disease were also more likely to develop Alzheimer’s.
The results? They found that people who had had inflammation and periodontal disease for 10 years or longer were more likely — as much as 70 times more so — to have Alzheimer’s. They adjusted the research for other factors that might influence the development of Alzheimer’s, like an urban environment, heart disease, and stroke.
What’s the Connection?
The link between gum disease and Alzheimer’s has to do with inflammation, or what happens when your body tries to heal an infection or injured area — like with periodontitis. In small amounts, inflammation is a good (or at least necessary) thing. But if the inflammation stays, it can wreak havoc throughout an otherwise healthy body.
This study (and others like it) points to the effect inflammation has on overall health. Note that the researchers found no overall link between periodontitis and Alzheimer’s — people aren’t at a higher risk of the disease simply because they have periodontitis. Rather, it’s the long term, low grade inflammation from gum disease that is linked to the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s.
Preventing Gum Disease
So what can you do with the information? It’s a good reminder that gum health is important no matter your age. The researchers urge people not to ignore the oral health of older people, who are often at a higher risk of gum disease.
Some of the risk factors contributing to gum disease include:
- Poor oral hygiene (insufficient brushing and flossing)
- Tobacco use
- Older age
- Medications causing dry mouth
To keep gum disease at bay and enjoy better oral and overall health for a lifetime, make sure you maintain excellent oral hygiene practices (and encourage others around you to do so, too). Brush your teeth for two minutes, twice a day, floss daily, and visit your dentist twice annually for a routine checkup and cleaning!
About the Author
Dr. Henry A. Campbell is a Dallas native and has been providing superior general, restorative, and cosmetic services in his modern, comfortable Carrollton dental practice for decades. He stays in tune with the latest developments in dentistry through his active engagement in a number of professional organizations. To learn more about Dr. Campbell or to schedule an appointment, we invite you to get in touch with us at (972) 939-2888.
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