Researchers from New York University (NYU) concluded that there is actually a link between gum inflammation and Alzheimer’s disease, after reviewing 20 years of data on the association. Comparing cognitive function at ages 50 and 70, the NYU team found that gum disease at the age of 70 was strongly associated with low scores for cognitive function.
Study participants were nine times more likely to have a score in the lower range of the cognitive test – the “digit symbol test” (DST) – if they had inflammation of the gums. Analysis showed that a bacterium – Porphyromonas gingivalis – was present in the Alzheimer’s brain samples but not in the samples from the brains of people who did not have Alzheimer’s. What was interesting was that P. gingivalis is usually associated with chronic gum disease. In a patient who has bleeding gums, says Dr. Singharo, the gum disease-causing bacteria will enter the blood stream every time they clean their mouth and even when they eat food.
How to take a proactive role in the prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease?
Since there is currently no cure for the debilitating disease of Alzheimer’s, prevention is a major concern. There is no definitive evidence yet about what can prevent Alzheimer’s or age-related cognitive decline. What we do know is that a healthy lifestyle—one that includes a healthy diet, physical activity, appropriate weight, and no smoking—can maintain and improve overall health and well-being. Making healthy choices can also lower the risk of certain chronic diseases, like heart disease and diabetes, and scientists are very interested in the possibility that a healthy lifestyle might have a beneficial effect on Alzheimer’s as well. In the meantime, as research continues to pinpoint what works to prevent Alzheimer’s, people of all ages can benefit from taking positive steps to get and stay healthy.
Taking the necessary steps to preventing gum disease can positively effect the overall health outlook for an individual throughout their life.
Prevent Periodontal (Gum) Disease:
Brush your teeth. Brushing after meals helps remove food debris and plaque trapped between your teeth and gums. Don’t forget to include your tongue, bacteria loves to hide there.
Floss. Flossing at least once a day helps remove food particles and plaque between teeth and along the gum line that your toothbrush can’t quite reach.
Swish with mouthwash. Using a mouthwash can help reduce plaque and can remove remaining food particles that brushing and flossing missed.
Know your risk. Age, smoking, diet and genetics can all increase your risk for periodontal disease. If you are at increased risk, be sure to talk with your dental professional.
See a periodontist. Get an annual comprehensive periodontal evaluation by a CDA dental professional. A CPE looks at your teeth, plaque level, gums, bite, bone structure and other risk factors for periodontal disease. Identifying symptoms of gum disease early is key to protecting your teeth and gums.
Contact Cosmetic Dental Associates today to schedule your gum evaluation to prevent this negative disease before it starts.
(*Sources: National Institute of Health: http://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/publication/preventing-alzheimers-disease/introduction; Perio.Org http://www.perio.org/consumer/prevent-gum-disease; Medical News Today http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/283649.php)