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David M. Rizk, DDS

What We Know About The Link Between Gum Disease & Dementia

added on: November 8, 2016

dementiaEach November, we recognize the 5 million Americans struggling with debilitating Alzheimer’s Disease and their loving caregivers. While there’s still a lot of research to be done on this disease, there has been a great deal of scientific research and studies devoted to learning if there’s a possible connection between gum (or periodontal) disease and dementia.

At my dental office in El Paso we share the importance of maintaining excellent oral hygiene with our family of patients every day. It’s important to ensure your mouth is free from harmful gum disease and the bacteria that comes with it! Not only for your mouth’s sake, but your whole health.

  • Reminder: It’s a good time to make sure dementia patients are receiving the oral health care they need, as they’re at an increased risk of gum disease and tooth decay due to a decline in personal hygiene and side effects associated with some medications.

What Research Tells Us

According to a recent article in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, there is a chance people with poor oral hygiene or elevated gum (or periodontal) disease could possibly be at greater risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. One study took samples of brain tissue from patients with dementia, along with tissue samples from patients without dementia. What interested scientists was: the dementia patient tissue had gum disease bacteria, but the non-dementia tissue did not.

  • Reminder: There’s still more research that needs to be conducted to better understand the potential link between gum disease and dementia. As of this year, there’s still no definitive proof that gum disease causes dementia or that they are directly related.

Blame The Bacteria

The connection between gum disease and dementia (along with other possible illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease) is due to bacteria. Our mouths are full of bacterial combinations — some good, some bad. The bad bacteria can end up in our bloodstream due to diseased gums simply by eating, chewing, and brushing, and can affect the rest of the body.

As we continue to see what happens with the possible gum disease and dementia correlation, my El Paso dental office would like to remind patients about the importance of keeping up with your regular oral hygiene routine and seeing us for cleanings. Give us a call to schedule your next appointment!

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Posted In: Prevention

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