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Link Between Gum Disease and Alzheimer’s

October 12, 2023

Filed under: Uncategorized — dentondental @ 8:05 pm

Incomplete jigsaw puzzle of a human headTooth decay isn’t the only threat to your dental health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 50% of adults have a form of gum disease. Not only is it a leading cause of tooth loss, but it is also linked to an increased risk of various health issues, including Alzheimer’s disease. If you skip flossing your teeth, here’s why you should commit to keeping your gums healthy. 

What is Gum Disease?

Gum disease is an infection caused by bacteria in plaque and tartar buildup from poor oral hygiene. Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease, which causes red, swollen, and bleeding gums. It is easy to treat when caught early; however, if it progresses to periodontitis, it can destroy the supporting structures of your teeth, which can ultimately lead to tooth loss. 

Bacteria from the infection can also enter your bloodstream, wreaking havoc on your health. Gum disease is connected to many health conditions, including heart disease, preterm delivery, and diabetic complications.

Gum Disease May Lead to Alzheimer’s

Researchers have found a link between advanced gum disease and Alzheimer’s disease. According to a study published in the Journal of Science Advances, researchers have found the main pathogens responsible for gum disease in the brains of deceased Alzheimer’s patients. The tissue samples contained a toxic enzyme called gingipains, which causes elevated proteins in the brain called tau and ubiquitin.

Researchers have also examined animals with infected gum tissue and found the same relationship. The animal studies revealed damaged neurons and excessive plaque. 

Keep Your Gums and Brain Healthy

Your toothbrush is the most frequently used oral hygiene product you have at home, but brushing isn’t enough to keep your gums healthy. Your toothbrush can’t reach everywhere in your mouth, which can leave 40% of your teeth surfaces unclean. Plaque and tartar can accumulate in the hard-to-reach areas, infecting your gum tissue.

You can keep your gums healthy by committing to daily flossing. Besides brushing your teeth for 2 minutes twice per day, clean between each tooth and around the gum line with dental floss daily. Finish your oral hygiene routine with an antimicrobial mouthwash.

If you’re a smoker, it’s best to kick the habit because tobacco can increase your risk of gum disease. Limit your alcohol consumption, which can also raise your risk of infections and make them more difficult to treat.

Visit your dentist every 6 months for a cleaning and checkup. They’ll keep your teeth and gums healthy to support your overall wellness. If you spot any signs of gum disease between your regular appointments, contact your dentist right away.

About Dr. Naveen Karim 

Dr. Karim achieved her dental degree from the Baylor College of Dentistry before continuing her education in periodontics. She has advanced training in gum disease and the latest treatments. She takes pride in creating healthy, beautiful smiles that support the mouth and body connection. Request an appointment through her website or call (940) 242-2401.