It seems like we can’t go a week without hearing about some new and deadly side effect of poor oral health There are some we know all too well about, like heart disease and diabetes, but new research has turned up another potentially deadly connection: Alzheimer’s disease.
Treating gum disease is a fundamental part of what we do at Panama City Smiles, and we’ve found that it’s very preventable. That makes the possibility of Alzheimer’s progression due to gum disease even more sad – in many cases the risk could have been averted!
The Mouth/Mind Connection: It Exists
The fact that poor oral health can affect your mind is alarming for some people. If you’ve never considered gum disease a potentially mind-destroying condition you’re not alone! The link might seem surprising, but when you realize why Alzheimer’s patients with gum disease experience faster cognitive decline it’s truly not a shock.
The recent study which reported the link tested Alzheimer’s patients over the course of a year. It tracked their ability to perform tests, recall details, and remember facts with one additional caveat: their oral health.
Results of the study were surprising: patients who started the study with gum disease experienced much more loss of function over the course of the year. But why was it happening? The answer to that wasn’t nearly as shocking for medical professionals.
Breaking Down The Cause
Gum disease begins when oral bacteria in your mouth irritates your gums. Irritation opens up a pathway for bacteria to sneak under the gumline, where it spreads unchecked and causes infection. Those infections, in turn, are treated by the body just like any other infection: it sends white blood cells to the site to fight it off.
Unfortunately, the inflammation that accompanies the white blood cells doesn’t really help your mouth at all. That means the inflammation never goes away – a recipe for health problems throughout your body.
It’s those very inflammatory markers that led researchers to determine the link. Inflammation in the gums is also inflammation in the blood and throughout the body, and inflammation in the brain. We’ve long known that brain inflammation is one of the signs of Alzheimer’s, and now we know that gum disease can contribute to its rapid spread.
What Does This Mean For You?
Suffering from gum disease doesn’t mean you’ll develop Alzheimer’s disease, just that it will progress faster if you have it. It makes matters worse that many Alzheimer’s patients forget to do simple things like brush their teeth and take care of their health, meaning that decline can happen fast.
It isn’t just Alzheimer’s that should have you doing all you can to fight gum disease: you can also increase your risk of esophageal cancer, heart disease, stroke, and other potentially deadly conditions. The bottom line is clear: do everything you can to prevent gum disease!
Fighting Gum Disease: It Isn’t Always Hard!
Around 60 percent of adults will end up with some form of gum disease in their lifetimes. That a lot of people, but there’s some good news: most of those cases are incredibly minor. Gingivitis, the earlier form of gum disease, is easily treated with a deep cleaning and an improvement in home oral care habits. Most cases barely cause worry!
We treat gum disease at our Panama City office using a technique called root planing and scaling. This involves going under the gumline to remove plaque, tartar, and infection so that your gums can heal and become healthy again. It’s a simple procedure and has a very high success rate.
The best treatment for gum disease isn’t root planing and scaling, however: it’s good preventive dental care. By seeing us twice a year for regular cleanings you can minimize your risks of developing gum disease or getting cavities. You might not think cleanings make a difference but trust us: they truly do!
We also get a chance to identify trouble spots and start treatment before more extreme measures are necessary. It’s a much better way to do things than waiting for gum disease to happen!
Don’t Let Gum Disease Sneak Up On You
There’s no reason you need to let gum disease get you. It’s almost entirely preventable with good care, so don’t wait – give Panama City Smiles a call today!