When you think “oral health problems” cavities are probably the first thing that comes to mind. Almost everyone will get a cavity in their lives, and they’re often visible, making them much more immediate. But cavities aren’t the most serious oral health problem out there. Sure, there’s a lot that can happen when a tooth starts to decay, but ultimately a cavity won’t do nearly as much damage as gum disease.
At Edgewood Dental Care it seems we can’t go a week without hearing about another health condition connected to gum disease. One of the newest ones to be linked is Alzheimer’s – study suggests that the rate of mental decline is far worse in Alzheimer’s patients who also have gum disease. To make matters worse, it seems that Alzheimer’s itself can be a trigger for the development of gum disease!
How Can Gum Disease Affect Your Mind?
Gum disease has long had a reputation for causing or worsening health conditions throughout the body, all because of the chronic and constant inflammation that accompanies it. We generally associate inflammation with bad things like arthritis, but it’s not always a problem. In many cases inflammation is a good thing!
Any time you have tissue damage, say from a cut, your body will use the inflammatory response to send white blood cells to the site. They help infection while the inflammation protects the area so healing can occur. This is what your body is trying to do when you develop gum disease, but it just isn’t strong enough to stop it.
Inflammation due to gum disease become chronic, causing permanent damage to your gums as well as circulating inflammatory markers through your blood. These markers are what end up leading to heart disease and other gum disease-associated illnesses. Now you can add Alzheimer’s to that list.
What The Study Found
In an effort to understand how gum disease inflammation affects the body, a study was conducted using Alzheimer’s patients. Some of them had gum disease and some didn’t, and scientists monitored them for six months. At the end of the study they found startling results: those with gum disease had lost far more cognitive function than those without it.
We’ve known for a while that inflammation is part of the chain of events that causes Alzheimer’s, but this study gives us new understanding for how gum disease-related inflammation can end up causing trouble in the brain.
The longer inflammation lasts – whether in the mouth, the heart, or the brain – the harder it is on healthy tissue. Antibodies designed to destroy harmful cells and damaged tissue start damaging the healthy stuff as well. In your mouth this leads to a loss of gum tissue, and in the brain it leads to a loss of neural tissue. The increase in inflammatory markers that are caused by gum disease means that antibodies are spreading all over the place, making any potential problem site (like the brain in Alzheimer’s) fight harder and do more damage.
How To Slow The Progress
Good oral health is essential to slowing the progress of Alzheimer’s. Whether you’ve been recently diagnosed or are caring for a loved one who is bearing the burden of this horrible disease Edgewood Dental Care wants to help.
The most important step is ensuring good continued oral health. Alzheimer’s patients can quickly make the situation worse by forgetting to brush and floss, so be sure to find a way to track or record good oral health habits.
It’s also essential to maintain regularly scheduled dental checkups, perhaps now more than ever. By seeing you every six months we can maintain a good record of your oral health, track down problems early, and have your mouth in peak condition. We can also treat gum disease to restore your oral health – and keep it that way.
Whether it’s Alzheimer’s, heart disease, arthritis aggravation, or any of the other side effects of the chronic inflammation caused by gum disease we can help you control it. It’s understandable to be skeptical of the bodily relief provided by a healthy mouth, but trust us: they’re connected in more ways than you think!
Take A Stand For Your Health, And Your Memory!
There are a lot of deadly health conditions that, while not treatable, can be managed and controlled through good oral health. We invite you to discover everything we have to offer at our Edgewood dentist office – your oral health is our business!