Not keeping up with your oral health can put you at risk for a lot more than bad breath. In fact, it could be putting your brain health on the line. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, about 5.8 million Americans are living with the brain disorder. Recent studies have established a link between gum disease and Alzheimer’s. Scientists now believe that fortifying your oral health could be the key to reducing your risk of developing this brain disorder when you’re older. Read on to learn how visiting your dentist in West Hollywood could help protect your memory when you’re older.
What is Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia that’s known for its slowly developing symptoms that worsen over time. It causes memory problems and affects thinking and behavior. The greatest risk for developing this disorder is aging, and most people with Alzheimer’s are 65 or older. But it’s not just found in older populations, about 200,000 Americans who are under 65 have early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
There’s no single test that is able to determine if you have Alzheimer’s. Currently, there is no cure for the disorder, however, there are treatments that are available for certain symptoms and to slow the progression of the disorder. There’s extensive research being conducted to find more effective ways to treat the disease and prevent it from developing.
How are Gum Disease and Alzheimer’s Related?
In a recent study, scientists discovered excessive amounts of bacteria called P. gingivalis in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients—the same bacteria known to cause gum disease. After years of relying on the same hypothesis, researchers were able to develop a new one: that P. gingivalis doesn’t get into the brain because of Alzheimer’s disease, but it could be the cause.
They conducted a study on mice where they gave P. gingivalis gum disease to them. The results showed that it led to brain infection and they started producing two proteins normally found in Alzheimer’s patients, amyloid and tau.
Researchers are unsure exactly how the bacteria moves its way to the brain but believe there could be a couple of different ways. Your mouth has its own microbiome containing harmful and good bacteria. When harmful bacteria overpopulate and aren’t controlled by regular brushing and flossing, they can accumulate and begin to release toxins. These toxins can be carried to your brain by your bloodstream because of the damage the bacteria cause to your oral tissues.
How Can You Reduce Your Risk?
Because the same bacteria that cause gum disease may be the cause of Alzheimer’s, protecting your oral health has never been so important. The best way to prevent harmful bacteria accumulation and developing gum disease is by keeping up with your oral hygiene. Maintaining these few habits can help support your brain and oral health:
- Brushing your teeth for two minutes, twice each day and flossing once a day.
- Attending semi-annual checkups and cleanings with your dentist to remove hardened plaque and tartar developing along your gumline.
- Maintaining a nutritious diet and avoid foods that turn your mouth into a bacterial breeding ground like ones that are high in sugar.
When you visit your dentist for your semi-annual checkup and cleaning, they’ll be able to spot any signs of early gum disease when it’s easily treatable. When caught early, your symptoms can even be reversed. You can also ask your dentist if they have any oral hygiene product suggestions to help keep your mouth as healthy as possible. Take the necessary steps to protect your brain health by ensuring your oral health is in check!
About the Author
Dr. Oshin Anjirghooli has been providing his patients with their healthiest smiles since 2012. His favorite part of his profession is watching his patients smile after they undergo treatment. He is dedicated to giving his patients the best possible dental care by continuing his education and completing advanced training. For any questions or to schedule an appointment for a semi-annual checkup and cleaning, visit his website or contact 310-246-0995.