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Are Gum Disease and Dementia Related?

Are Gum Disease and Dementia Related?

added on: November 14, 2016
dementia

According to a recent study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, there is a chance people with poor oral hygiene or elevated gum (or periodontal) disease could possibly be at greater risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

At my Cambridge dental office,  we always stress the importance of keeping teeth and gums healthy because of the potential effects on a patient’s overall health too!

Just the Facts, Please

There’s still more research that needs to be conducted about the link between gum disease and dementia. As of this year, there’s still no definitive proof that gum disease causes dementia or that they are directly related. The fact is — gum disease bacteria was found, during research, in brain tissue samples taken from patients with dementia, but the bacteria was not present in non-dementia patients.

It’s A Matter of Bacteria

Bacteria is the reason for the concern that gum disease could be linked to more serious illnesses such as dementia. Here’s why:

  1. Our mouths are full of bacteria. The bacteria can lead to plaque and tartar buildup on the teeth.
  2. The longer plaque and tartar are on the teeth, the more dangerous they become. The plaque can cause inflammation and help bad bacteria enter our bloodstream through eating, chewing, and brushing.
  3. Once they’re in the bloodstream, bacteria can end up in other parts of the body.
  4. This is why it’s important to maintain a good oral health routine at home, and regularly see your dentist in Cambridge for routine hygiene cleanings and checkups.

November is National Alzheimer’s Disease and Awareness Month

At my dental office in Cambridge, we want to recognize patients already struggling with dementia-related conditions and their caregivers. It’s important to also remember individuals with these illnesses are at an increased risk for tooth decay and gum disease, due to less focus on personal grooming and side effects from medication.

If you have questions about gum disease and oral hygiene, please give my Cambridge dental office a call. We’re always happy to hear from you!

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