What’s the Connection Between Gum Disease and Alzheimer’s?

Currently, millions of Americans suffer from some form of gum disease. What begins as gingivitis (the first stage) can quickly progress to periodontitis, a more serious condition. Patients who do not receive proper treatment from a periodontist in Houston may begin to experience bone and tooth loss, as well as serious health conditions such as Alzheimer’s. This devastating disease robs the mind of its ability to remember people, places, and even oneself. But how can a problem in the mouth lead to a problem in the brain? A periodontist in the area explains the hidden link that connects the two.

The Relationship Alzheimer’s and Periodontitis

Researchers at the University of Central Lancashire discovered a link between Alzheimer’s disease and P.gingivalis (Porphyromonas gingivalis), a type of bacteria that develops in people with periodontitis. The same bacterium was discovered in Alzheimer’s patients. While there is no guarantee that someone with gum disease will develop this neurological disease or vice versa, there is a lot of evidence that it is a possibility.

To get a better look, the researchers injected P. gingivalis into the gums of healthy mice, where it then appeared in their brains. It was also discovered that the animal’s brain had neuron damage and elevated levels of beta-amyloid, which when clumped together forms plaque in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.

While this study does not provide enough evidence to say that people with gum disease will always have Alzheimer’s, it does show that there is a link between the bacteria found in the gums and the bacteria found in the brain.

Methods for Preventing Gum Disease

While researchers are divided on whether a lack of flossing will eventually result in a decrease in cognitive brain functioning, they do recommend that individuals take the necessary steps to maintain good oral health.

If you are currently suffering from gum disease, your periodontist can assist you. They can encourage proper reattachment by using treatments such as scaling and root planing to remove plaque and tartar accumulations and smooth out the tooth roots. This usually necessitates more frequent visits in order to keep the gum tissue from becoming infected again.

If you have not yet noticed the symptoms of gum disease (red, swollen, tender gums that bleed), here are some tips to keep your oral tissues and teeth disease-free:

  • Brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste.
  • Floss your teeth at least once a day, preferably before going to bed.
  • Use an antimicrobial mouthwash twice a day.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Consume a nutrient-dense diet while limiting your sugar and starch intake.
  • Maintain regular dental checkups and cleanings every six months.

You can avoid the many problems that gum disease can cause by following these tips and taking care of your oral health.

West Houston Periodontics

We are periodontal care specialists at West Houston Periodontics. Dr. Kevin Calongne is a trained expert who can assist you in improving your soft oral tissues and providing preventive tips to avoid potential dangers associated with deteriorating gum health. Because of the close relationship between the mouth and the body, we will go above and beyond to ensure your smile is disease-free so that your overall health remains optimal. Contact us right away if you suspect you have red, inflamed, or tender gums.