There are plenty of links between teeth problems and diseases that affect the rest of your body. Poor oral health can affect the rest of your body as well as making you self conscious about the appearance of your smile. But does gum disease cause Alzheimer’s disease? Recent findings suggest that there could be a link.
Alzheimer’s disease is when the tissues that make up the brain break down. They break down slowly, over a long period. The first sign is usually short-term memory loss, progressing to depression, disorientation and problems speaking. Alzheimer’s will often lead to dementia.
It can be a slow decline that is upsetting for the individual as well as their family. Treatment is limited and sometimes all you can do is try to support the individual as the Alzheimer’s gets worse. The causes of the disease are poorly understood.
A recent study found a link between Alzheimer’s and gum disease. The study followed 25,000 individuals and found that people who had gum disease for over 10 years were 70% more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.
We need to be clear that this is not the same as saying that gum disease causes Alzheimer’s. The study did not find this. The evidence from the study just suggests a link between the two diseases.
We really don’t understand Alzheimer’s disease and dementia very well. More studies like this are needed to find out what causes these diseases but this study does indicate the importance of a healthy mouth. Your mouth is the start of your digestive system and you need to look after it.
The good news is that gum disease can often be prevented. Gum disease is caused by bacteria. Bacteria and plaque get underneath your gums and irritate them. If the bacteria are left there, they can cause inflammation that spreads to the bone support around your teeth. The bone support slowly erodes away until there is very little left and the teeth are lost.
But if you get rid of the bacteria in the first place, they cannot cause damage to the bone support around your teeth and the gums stay healthy.
How do you get rid of the bacteria? Easy. Pick up your toothbrush and get cleaning.
It’s obviously not quite as simple as that. Brushing alone won’t prevent gum disease. You need to be using a fluoride toothpaste. You also need to be cleaning between your teeth. It’s easy for plaque to build up between your teeth because bacteria can hide there and your toothbrush will not reach them. Cleaning between your teeth with either interdental brushes or floss removes the bacteria and prevents them from causing mischief.
If you have issues with your gums, the most important area that you need to focus on cleaning is between your teeth. Read our article on how best to do this.
So you can prevent gum disease with good oral hygiene. But if you have developed gum disease, you are going to need treatment with a dentist or hygienist. The idea with treatment of gum disease is to remove the bacteria that have settled underneath your gums with professional, deep cleaning. Read our article to find out more.
Healthy gums are key to keeping you teeth. When ignored, gum disease will eventually cause you to lose teeth. But brushing your teeth may not just protect your teeth. It may also be helping to prevent other conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.