February 8, 2019
Did you know that dementia is now the 5th leading cause of death worldwide? The lack of understanding and effective treatment for this disease has been incredibly frustrating for both doctors and patients. But new evidence has been found that could shed some light on things. It may surprise you, but studies have shown that gum disease may play a big role in the development of brain-related conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Keep reading to learn more about this important topic and find out how a dentist in Ridgefield can help lower your risk!
How Are Gums Linked To the Brain?
Recent research has found evidence that dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are caused by an infection of the brain. They think this infection is caused by the same type of bacteria (Porphyromonas gingivalis or P. gingivalis) that causes infections of the gums – also called gum disease.
While researchers aren’t entirely sure yet of how this bacteria enters the brain, they do know that plaque and tartar contain large numbers of P. gingivalis.
It’s possible that, as plaque and tartar accumulate under the gumline, P. gingivalis gets into the bloodstream and travels throughout the entire body, including the brain.
Doctors are encouraged by this new information, and more studies are being done in the hopes that it leads to better prevention and treatment.
What Are the Signs of Gum Disease?
An estimated 65 million Americans have some form of gum disease. Here are some of the most common signs and symptoms:
- Bleeding gums (such as after brushing or flossing)
- Tender or swollen gums
- Chronic bad breath
- Receding gums
- Loose teeth
- Pain when chewing
In addition to being a risk factor for dementia, gum disease is also the leading cause of tooth loss. Not to mention that it increases the risk for heart disease, stroke, pregnancy complications, and even some cancers.
In light of this information, gum health may be just as important for your well-being as a good diet, adequate sleep, and exercise.
How Can You Improve Your Gum Health?
Thankfully, there are some easy ways to prevent or manage gum disease:
- Get regular dental care – 6-month checkups include an annual gum exam so that gum problems can be found and treated early on, as well as a professional cleaning to remove tartar buildup that you can’t remove at home.
- Get gum therapy as needed – Oftentimes, the first recommendation is a special type of cleaning called scaling and root planing. This thoroughly removes plaque and tartar under the gumline and smooths the roots to prevent P. gingivalis bacteria from re-accumulating.
- Practice good oral hygiene habits – The cleaner you keep your teeth and gums, the healthier they’ll be. Brush at least twice each day and floss once. There are also many effective aids such as an electric toothbrush or oral irrigator to help you be more effective.
Gum disease and its link to brain health should be taken seriously. But, with professional care and good practices at home, you can keep your gums and brain healthy at the same time.
About the Author
Dr. Dana C. Jones is a dentist in Ridgefield with nearly 30 years of experience. He’s a firm believer in the power of good oral health to help his patients lead long, healthy lives. That’s why he focuses on prevention and early treatment to maintain healthy gums and reduce the risk of disease. If you have any other questions about your gums, he can be contacted through his website.
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