If you’ve ever watched a loved one battle Alzheimer’s, you know the pain and heartache it brings. To watch someone you’ve known your whole life slowly forget how to perform daily tasks and eventually, forget who you are, it is tragic and devastating. While researchers still don’t know the exact causes of this horrible disease, it has been discovered that there’s a link between gum health and brain function. To better understand, your dentist in Frontenac explains how your oral health can play a role in the possible development of Alzheimer’s.
What the Research Says
In a study performed by scientists from Cortexyme, Inc., it was discovered that patients with Alzheimer’s disease had a bacteria in their brain called Porphyromonas gingivalis, which is associated with gum disease. Additionally, the bacteria produced gingipains in the neurons, and higher levels of gingipains were associated with two other proteins that can cause Alzheimer’s.
In layman’s terms, what this boils down to is inflammation. While researchers don’t know if patients suffering from dementia exhibit poor oral health or if poor gum health results in Alzheimer’s, we do know inflammation plays a role. When your gums become inflamed as a result of gum disease, or periodontal disease, it can travel to the brain and negatively impact its function.
Once the bacteria enters the blood, you can be looking at the potential for diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s. If the inflammation reaches your brain, beneficial neurons will be killed off because of your body’s attempt to fight off the infection.
Ways to Prevent Poor Gum Health and Maintain Healthy Brain Function
Since so much of our oral health is tied to our overall well-being, it’s imperative you take care of your teeth and gums, so you don’t develop other health-related issues or lose cognitive function. Some ways you can lower your risk of developing Alzheimer’s include:
- Watching what you eat. Choosing nutritious foods instead of those high in sugar and carbohydrates can not only improve your oral health but your waistline, too!
- Exercising. Opting for a regular exercise routine will give you the energy you need and help prevent cardiovascular, respiratory, and circulatory diseases.
- Practicing good oral habits. Brushing, flossing, and rinsing according to your dentist’s instructions will not only ensure you maintain healthy teeth and gums, but it will benefit your overall health in a variety of ways.
- Visiting your dentist. This can sometimes be the most difficult to remember, simply because life oftentimes gets in the way. Remembering to visit your family dentist in Frontenac twice a year for thorough cleanings will keep your oral health in check and on track.
If you desire to keep your brain functioning at top speed for many years, it’s best to stay on top of your oral health every day. Your dentist can discuss additional ways to prevent gum disease, so you don’t have to worry about losing your teeth or your mind.
About the Author
Dr. Stewart E. Moreland, DMD, LLC, completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Missouri. He then went on to attend Washington University in St. Louis, earning his Doctor of Dental Medicine degree. As an oral surgeon, he spent years pursuing additional training and special education to provide an extensive range of office-based surgical care to his patients. From implant placement to reconstructive surgery, he can handle your dental needs. For questions, contact us at (314) 569-1012.