As life expectancies increase worldwide, so too does the occurrence of dementia. Alzheimer’s Disease makes up 70 percent of these diagnoses — but its cause has long been clouded in mystery. New research, however, seems to show the connection between oral health and Alzheimer’s may be stronger than we ever realized. This is big news for how we understand this disease — and it means your dentist may play a critical role in the prevention of Alzheimer’s. Keep reading to find out more about the cause of Alzheimer’s in Midland.
What Is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s results in the progressive loss of memory and cognitive function usually occuring over the course of a decade or more. It is the fifth-biggest cause of death worldwide. Most people who are diagnosed with this disease are over the age of 65, but some 200,000 Americans under the age of 65 have early-onset Alzheimer’s.
Connection of Gum Disease and Alzheimer’s
While the cause of Alzheimer’s has long been a mystery, new research suggests that a bacteria which occurs with gum disease is highly likely to be present in patients suffering from Alzheimer’s. It’s called P. gingivalis and multiple independent studies of mice and the brains of older individuals who both had Alzheimer’s and those who did not show its presence can both worsen the effects of the disease — and that it can exist in the brain some 10 to 20 years before onset. This suggests that rather than being an effect of Alzheimer’s, P. gingivalis may actually be the cause itself.
How does P. gingivalis enter the brain? That is still a question mark, but it may make its way through periodontal pockets that develop beneath the gum line in patients who have gum disease. That’s why we now believe more than ever that the prevention of gum disease is crucial for your lasting oral and overall health.
Preventing Gum Disease
Fortunately, by caring for your teeth and gums and partnering with your dentist you can dramatically reduce your risk of developing gum disease as you age. Healthy smiles are built on routine hygiene habits like brushing and flossing as well as six month checkups and cleanings. Important for patients of all ages and stages of life, developing these habits right now can help to protect you from Alzheimer’s Disease and the host of other health conditions that have been linked to gum disease — like diabetes, lung conditions, and more.
When was your last visit to the dentist? If it has been more than six months, don’t wait to book an appointment. It is never too late to recommit to your oral health… especially considering that your very life may depend on it.
Meet the Dentist
Dr. Robert E. Christensen is a trusted dentist in Midland, TX providing excellent care for patients of all ages. He offers full-service general, restorative, and cosmetic dentistry services, from checkups and cleanings to dental implants and more. If you are in need of gum disease treatment or simply a routine preventive appointment, do not hesitate to contact Dr. Christensen’s team at 432-219-2666.