Alzheimer’s Disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. More than 5.8 million Americans suffer from this devastating condition that results in a loss of memory and cognitive function. Luckily, new research may have unveiled the root cause: gum disease.
This news could indeed be a game-changer, especially as we look for a cure AND ways to prevent the disease from developing in the first place.
It turns out, going to the dentist for regular checkups could be the answer.
What Scientists Say About Regular Dental Visits
Gum disease has long been a known risk factor for Alzheimer’s Disease - and Porphyromonas gingivalis, the disease’s main component, has been found in human brains with Alzheimer’s.
We know for sure that P. gingivalis, inflames the same regions of the brain that are affected by Alzheimer’s, and can also cause significant neural damage. On top of that, additional research shows that gum infections can worsen Alzheimer’s symptoms in mice.
However, researchers are still unclear whether P. gingivalis in the brain is a result of Alzheimer’s - or if its presence caused Alzheimer’s. Evidence suggests the latter.
Researchers are also unclear on how P. gingivalis enters the brain, as there are several different ways this could happen:
- Dental plaque buildup could cause damage to the lining of a person’s mouth, allowing oral bacteria to enter the bloodstream.
- Dental plaque buildup could also invade white blood cells to enter the brain
- Toxins could just simply be released from areas in the mouth infected with P. gingivalis.
As with all research, more studies need to be done to draw these conclusions.
Preventing Alzheimer’s at the Dentist Office
With all the recent evidence in mind, one definitive conclusion can be drawn: Regular visits to the dentist can help prevent gum disease, and preventing gum disease could mean preventing Alzheimer’s disease.
What does a regular visit to the dentist include? You should be visiting your dentist every six months for regular cleanings and checkups. Your dentist should not only be focused on treating tooth damage and decay but also on preventing oral health issues - such as gum disease - issues in the first place.
You also learn ways to help prevent gum disease at home, including:
- Brushing and flossing your teeth daily
- Increasing your Vitamin C intake
- Eating healthy foods
- Drinking plenty of water
- If you smoke, QUIT!
Finding the Right Dentist for You & Your Family
Did you know that your family dentist can do more than help prevent Alzheimer’s disease? They can detect the early warning signs of heart disease, diabetes, and other serious health conditions too.
This makes choosing the right dentist an important task. The doctors at Complete Health Dentistry in Grand Rapids, MI, will not only focus on treating tooth damage and decay but will also proactively look for bacteria and issues in your mouth that can lead to more serious health conditions.
Not only will choosing a dentist who cares so much about preventative dentistry save your teeth, time, and money, but also allows you to enjoy a healthy smile - all while contributing to your overall health, wellness, and wellbeing. If you are interested in setting up an appointment at our Grand Rapids office, please click here, or give us a call at (616) 458-7267.