Is Periodontal Disease Linked to Alzheimer’s Disease?
- Jun 25 2019
Can periodontal disease lead to other health issues?
Alzheimer’s disease from not brushing your teeth? Rheumatoid arthritis because you started skipping those annual dental examination appointments?
Most people know that it is important to brush and floss regularly and keep those scheduled appointments for dental cleanings and exams. Not doing so can be expected to result in tooth decay and bad breath, at the very least, with gum disease and tooth loss being more serious possibilities. What many may not consider is that the consequences of not paying enough attention to taking care of their teeth can have far more serious consequences.
Gum disease, or more technically, periodontal disease, is a serious infection in the gums that not only damages the structure that holds the teeth in place, but is also known to lead to increased risk of issues like diabetes, heart disease and stroke. As if that wasn’t enough to get everyone’s attention about the importance of good dental hygiene, there are now several studies pointing to the possibility that gum disease may be linked to Alzheimer’s disease, aspiration pneumonia and rheumatoid arthritis.
Research is ongoing, and with the current urgency associated with finding a cure or a way to prevent Alzheimer’s, it can be expected that it will accelerate. Common sense would seem to dictate that there is no reason to wait for definitive proof of a connection between periodontal disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Just a slight possibility should be more than enough reason to take what are actually very simple steps toward prevention.
Factors That Increase the Risk for Periodontal Disease
Periodontal disease is caused by the bacteria that finds a home in the plague and tartar build-up below the gum level. Many people have some level of infection without even being aware of it. In fact, 50 percent of adults between ages 30 and 65 have gum disease at any given time. For those over 65, the rate of infection goes to 70 percent and higher.
Inadequate oral hygiene is the main cause of gum disease, but there are other factors that increase the risk; some avoidable and others not. Besides poor dental hygiene, the most common that increase risk include:
- Using tobacco products
- Substance abuse
- Vitamin C deficiency and other forms of inadequate nutrition
- Reduced levels of saliva as a side effect of certain medications
- Changes in hormone levels, for example, changes that happen during pregnancy or menopause
- Compromised immune system, like the effects of treatment for AIDS and cancer
It is impossible to overstate the importance of maintaining healthy gums. Even though periodontal disease can be treated, it is far better to avoid developing it in the first place. Regular brushing and flossing, after meals but most importantly before going to bed at night, is crucial. Plaque can be stubborn, though, and you may not always be able to remove all of it through your own efforts. This is why those professional cleanings are so important, as well as your yearly exams to make sure that infection has not taken hold.
The good news is that with just a little effort, taken consistently, gum disease can be avoided. And, now we know that this may even mean that you lower your risk of developing some of the most dreaded diseases out there.
If you are experiencing any signs of gum disease or if you have questions about any of our services, whether dentistry or aesthetics, Forest Hills Dentistry is dedicated to delivering the highest quality services possible. We offer the latest and most current information and services to our patients with a new state-of-the-art facility in Forest Hills, Queens. Patient comfort, individualized care and complete satisfaction are our priority.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, you are invited to use our online form by clicking here.