Does Oral Health Impact Your Risk for Alzheimer’s Disease?

Could the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s be related to your oral health? Well, it’s complicated…

Alzheimer’s is a disease of the brain affecting millions today, with new diagnoses on the rise as our population ages. Symptoms can take years to develop and often lead to dementia that becomes life-threatening for the patient over time. Although physicians diagnose Alzheimer’s in patients with short term memory loss, cognitive decline, and mood changes, it is only definitively diagnosed after death when an autopsy can determine if certain protein deposits are present in the brain.

It is these specific proteins that are the focus of many studies today as we seek a better way to diagnose treat or even cure Alzheimer’s. Scientists continue to research the effects of certain proteins on the aging brain asking the key questions:

-how do they get there?

-what is their purpose?

-what is their relationship to other systems in the body?

Recent studies conducted in several universities and pharmaceutical labs around the world have recently converged on the existence and role of one particular bacterium, P. gingivalis, a known cause of gum disease found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.  In an article published online by NewScientist, researchers discuss the importance of this finding and further results that support their hypotheses in tests completed on mice.

importance of gum health in disease prevention

What does this mean for your oral health?

The Mouth-Blood-Brain Connection

Keeping the mouth healthy has always been something we focus on with patients, finding ways to address concerns such as gum disease and identifying risk factors affecting individual patients. The role of P. gingivalis as a common bacteria found in gum disease is an important consideration if studies eventually prove that there is a connection between this and the development of Alzheimer’s disease. It is, however, important to note that genetics and other factors affecting each person as an individual also play a role and can impact how their body responds to both gum disease and the presence of P. gingivalis.

The important take away for dentists and patients is to continue to keep gum health an important focus of dental care and oral hygiene. A healthy mouth supports the body’s immune system and can help reduce internal inflammation as a result of harmful bacteria crossing the gum tissue into the bloodstream.

If you are experiencing bleeding gums, gum recession, changes in your bite or have concerns about the health of your gums schedule a visit with Dr. Doray in our Philadelphia dental office. We offer experienced care for your oral health needs and can help you restore your oral health if gum disease is present.