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Is Gum Disease a Cause of Alzheimer’s?

February 28, 2019

Filed under: Uncategorized — prestonbend @ 5:48 pm

brain scansEveryone knows that what happens in your mind can come out of your mouth, but did you know that it’s a two-way street? What happens in your mouth can affect your mind — specifically, gum disease may have a profound impact on your long-term mental health. Recent, groundbreaking research has discovered that periodontal (gum) disease may actually be a cause of Alzheimer’s in Plano. Let’s take a closer look at the science. Once you understand it, you’ll likely be more motivated than ever to maintain a clean, healthy smile!

P. Gingivalis and Alzheimer’s

P. gingivalis is the main type of bacteria involved in gum disease. However, it does not stay in the mouth indefinitely. It can slip into the bloodstream and affect other areas of the body, including the brain. Studies have shown that mice that were genetically engineered to develop Alzheimer’s experienced worsened symptoms when P. gingivalis entered their brain tissue. In healthy mice, the bacteria led to Alzheimer’s-like brain inflammation and neural damage.

Research on human brains has added weight to the idea that P. gingivalis may do more than simply contribute to Alzheimer’s; it may actually cause the disease. When researchers examined brain samples from individuals without Alzheimer’s, they found P. gingivalis along with accumulations of the tau and amyloid proteins. These proteins, when they clump together, cause the brain damage and cognitive decline that is associated with Alzheimer’s. Because the protein clumps can exist in the brain for years before any symptoms present themselves, the research indicates that P. gingivalis could be responsible for Alzheimer’s.

Healthy Mouth, Healthy Mind

Of course, Alzheimer’s research is still a long way away from gaining a full understanding of the disease and its causes. In the meantime, however, the abovementioned research underscores the fact that everyone should make a diligent effort to fight gum disease. Here are a few tips to help you protect your oral health:

  • Always brush your teeth thoroughly but gently, being sure to clean the area along the gum line.
  • Floss daily. Be sure to follow the curve of the tooth into the gum line in order to achieve the greatest clean possible.
  • Regularly swish with an antibacterial mouthwash.
  • Visit your dentist in Plano every six months for a checkup. More frequent visits may be necessary if you notice symptoms of gum disease, such as swollen gums or gums that bleed easily.
  • Eat a balanced, low-sugar diet.
  • If you have misaligned teeth, seek out orthodontic treatment. Straight teeth are easier to clean than ones that are overcrowded or crooked.

Alzheimer’s is a devastating illness, and its link with gum disease is undeniable even if it not yet fully understood. Protecting your smile may be a key to protecting your mind!

About the Author

Dr. Anita Naik Madhav has owned her practice for nearly 20 years. She provides a range of dental services, including preventive care, periodontal therapy, and more. If you would like Dr. Madhav’s help to maintain healthy teeth and gums, contact our office at 972-618-1111.

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