Alzheimer’s Connection to Poor Oral Health

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You’re probably at least a little familiar with both gum disease and Alzheimer’s, but did you know there’s a link between these two seemingly unrelated health problems? Yes, that’s right: doctors have recently determined that there is a connection between Alzheimer’s and poor oral health.

The Link

In a recent study, British scientists found bacteria usually associated with gum disease in the brains of patients affected with Alzheimer’s, meaning the presence of gum disease is linked to a higher risk of Alzheimer’s. These harmful bacteria usually live in the mouth, and they can enter the bloodstream and travel to the brain through daily activities like eating and brushing your teeth. Additionally, invasive dental surgery increases the risk that the bacteria will enter the brain. A previous study from New York University in 2010 also connected gum inflammation and Alzheimer’s.

How Does It Work?

When plaque builds up in our gums from lack of flossing, our bodies’ immune system is activated, and when this happens, your body’s standard level of health can start to deteriorate. In fact, bad dental health increases the chance that you will have cognitive issues by 30% to 40% over a three-decade period, according to the International Society of Vascular Behavioral and Cognitive Disorders.

What You Can Do

While gum disease is partly genetic, you can lower your risk of the plaque buildup that causes gum disease by flossing regularly (at least once a day!). The more you floss, the less plaque builds up in and around your teeth and gums. The less plaque you have in your mouth, the fewer harmful bacteria will reside there with the potential to travel to your brain and affect your cognitive functions. By taking care of your teeth every day you can make a difference!

If you are concerned about your dental health, or think you might be at risk for gum disease, contact our office today to speak with one of our friendly professionals.