Is there a connection between oral care and Alzheimer’s? Some scientists believe there is.
Caring for our teeth yields a lot of benefits and prevents quite a few serious conditions. We get to enjoy healthy, strong, functional teeth, and many of us feel more confident in our smiles when our teeth are well-maintained. Along with that, gum infections, cavities, and other painful dental issues are avoided.
Dental care is important for people of all ages, but children and seniors especially. In fact, children and seniors are more prone to tooth decay, making them targets for opportunistic bacteria. Most bacteria are harmless when we brush, floss, and drink water regularly. However, some bacteria can cause serious problems when they begin to flourish in our mouths and gums.
Seniors, in particular, are at risk when they develop gum infections since recent studies show that oral health and Alzheimer’s have an undeniable link.
Gum Disease, Oral Health, and Alzheimer’s
While it might seem impossible that bacteria from our gums can end up in our brains, it’s entirely possible and even scientifically proven. Most cases of gum disease are caused by a bacterium called P. gingivalis, which has been shown to migrate to the brain and destroy nerve cells.
This can lead to symptoms synonymous with Alzheimer’s disease. Obviously, it’s just one link and contributing factor to mental decline and Alzheimer’s, but it is one worth noting. It’s considerably troubling when you consider how many seniors have untreated gum disease, and how few of them seek treatment for this condition.
While this sounds like a nightmare scenario, it takes a while to happen and is avoidable. A mild case of gingivitis doesn’t mark you for the rest of your life. Gum disease can be reversed and treated, and not everyone with gum disease develops Alzheimer’s.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be concerned with your oral health and Alzheimer’s, however, since your teeth have a tremendous impact on other aspects of your mental health as well.
Mental Health, Teeth, and Alzheimer’s
If you’ve ever felt self-conscious about your teeth, you might understand how it can lead others to avoid social interactions. Many people who experience mild to severe tooth loss report feeling depressed or shy about smiling, speaking, and interacting with others. For seniors, social isolation, depression, and loneliness can play a serious role in the development of dementia.
For this reason, oral care and Alzheimer’s have another link. We feel our best when we look our best, and proper oral hygiene is a large part of this. Taking care of our teeth can have a significant impact on how we feel and present ourselves and talking with others provides vital stimulation to the brain. You might be surprised by how much self-confidence and socialization contributes to our mental health.
Brushing, flossing, mouth moisture, and ditching bad habits are all a part of oral hygiene, along with getting regular dental care. If you don’t already have a reliable dentist, or want to switch to a new one, Danville Family Dentistry might be the contact you need. You can reach us at 317-745-4400, where you can have a chat, ask questions, and schedule an appointment.
Disclaimer: The information included in this article is for educational purposes only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.