Alzheimers and gum disease

Is there a link between Alzheimer’s and gum disease? | 3 min read

The bacteria associated with gum disease that causes chronic inflammation is associated with the development of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia that affects memory, leading to losing the ability to think and remember.

However, everyone has memory lapses at times, but the memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s disease persists and worsens. Over time, memory loss affects the ability to function at work or home.

What are the symptoms of Alzheimer’s?

  • Repeating statements and questions over and over.
  • Forgetting conversations, appointments, or events.
  • Misplacing items, often in places that don’t make sense.
  • Getting lost in familiar places.
  • Eventually, forgetting the names of family members and everyday objects.
  • Struggling to find the right words for things, expressing thoughts, or participating in conversations.

How do bacteria in the mouth exacerbate symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease?

Gum disease plays a role in the development and progression of Alzheimer’s disease as the bacteria can generate local and systemic inflammation, affecting the Alzheimer’s disease phenotype. Also, the bacteria might migrate and penetrate the brain to colonize there and secrete pathological molecules to exacerbate the symptoms and signs of Alzheimer’s disease. 

Gum disease is an infection of the tissues that hold the teeth in place. If left untreated, it can spread to the bones surrounding the gums, and teeth may become loose or need removal.

What causes Gum Disease?

  • Hormonal changes. Occurring during pregnancy, puberty, menopause, and monthly menstruation can make gums more sensitive.
  • Certain illnesses. Patients with diseases like cancer, diabetes, and HIV are at higher risk of developing infections, including gum disease.
  • Medications. Some medications can affect oral health as they lessen the flow of saliva, which has a protective effect on teeth and gums.
  • Smoking. The smoking habit can make it harder for gum tissue to repair itself.
  • Poor oral hygiene. Habits like not brushing and flossing daily make developing gingivitis easier.

Gum disease may progress painlessly, producing few obvious signs, even in the late stages of the disease. It is essential to practice good oral hygiene to avoid Alzheimer’s; without proper oral hygiene, bacteria can reach levels that might lead to oral infections, such as tooth decay and gum disease. Although gum disease symptoms are often subtle, the condition is not entirely without warning signs. 

What are the symptoms of Gum Disease?

  • Gums that bleed during and after tooth brushing.
  • Red, swollen gums. Healthy gums should be pink and firm.
  • Persistent bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth.
  • Receding gums.
  • Formation of deep pockets between teeth and gums.
  • Loose or shifting teeth.
  • Changes in the way teeth fit together upon biting down or in the fit of partial dentures.

What are the tips for maintaining good oral health? 

  • Brush your teeth twice daily. Preferably after meals, this would mean after breakfast and last thing before going to bed.
  • Fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride toothpaste helps prevent cavities.
  • Avoid tobacco products and vaping. They can increase the risk of inflammation and gum disease.
  • Annual dental checkups. Regular checkups help detect problems early when they are easier to cure, and treatment is less expensive.
  • Regular cleanings by an oral hygienist.

Visit an Intercare oral hygienist or dentist if you develop bleeding, tender, or swollen gums; early detection is vital.

Sources

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