This June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. You may be wondering what that has to do with your oral health. Recent research has uncovered connections between gum disease in North Central San Antonio and Alzheimer’s. Your oral health can have a greater impact on your overall wellbeing than you may have thought. Read on to learn how poor oral hygiene may increase your risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
What Is Gum Disease?
If you have gum disease, you’re not alone. In America alone, about 64.7 million adults are affected by this bacterial gum infection. It can result in a variety of severe consequences such as receding gums, tooth loss, and chronic bad breath. When symptoms are spotted early on, your dentist in North Central San Antonio can easily treat and even reverse them. Adversely, when they’re untreated and left to progress, the disease can become incurable and affect your overall health.
What Is Alzheimer’s Disease?
One of the greatest risk factors in developing Alzheimer’s is age. Patients may experience less noticeable symptoms early on, but over time, they worsen. This disease is also one of the top 10 causes of death in the United States.
Your brain has billions of neurons that help different parts of your body communicate with each other. Keeping your body up and running involves these neurons processing and storing information, and communicating with other cells to keep everything functioning. Alzheimer’s affects these cell’s ability to do that. It causes cells to not be able to do their jobs and eventually die, creating irreversible changes to your brain. While there’s no cure for Alzheimer’s at the moment, it has been linked to a number of factors such as oral health.
What Does The Research Say?
A recent study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease examined brain tissue samples that were donated by 10 patients with dementia, and 10 without. In four of the patients with dementia they found gum disease bacteria, and none in the patients without dementia.
When harmful oral bacteria are left to accumulate, they release toxins that can get in your bloodstream and travel throughout your body. Researchers believed that when bacteria reach the brain, it can kill brain cells and cause symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s. The research points towards patients who have gum disease being at a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Because this was such a small study, the findings can’t be proven to be directly correlated, so more research is needed.
Protecting your oral health could play a role in taking care of your brain and reducing your risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Visiting your dentist for your semi-annual checkups and cleanings is one of the best ways to ensure that your gum health is in tip-top shape. If it’s not, they can provide you with the proper treatment necessary to benefit your overall wellbeing.
About the Author
Dr. Brian Eck has been providing his community of San Antonio with healthy teeth and gums since 1984. He focuses on providing his patients with comfortable and comprehensive care they can trust. Entering his 35th year of practicing dentistry, he has mastered both cosmetic and general dental techniques. For questions or to schedule an appointment for gum disease treatment, visit Legacy Dental’s website or contact 210-361-8905.