As a computer systems analyst at a Chicago hospital, Ted had a keen eye for detail and organization. After years in his position, Ted soon began to have trouble with his memory, which ended up manifesting in his performance at work. Ted’s colleagues quickly noticed these changes and he was terminated from his position. Like it or not, Ted was forced into retirement due to his condition, which would later be identified as Alzheimer’s disease.
Like Ted’s story, featured from the Alzheimer’s Association, there are countless Americans living with this destructive disease. Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia marked by cognitive decline, meaning that it will affect an individual’s memory, thinking, and behavior.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are no signs of this condition slowing down. In fact, researchers suggest that the number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s could rise as high as 16 million by 2050. In observance of National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, we’d like to shed light on how this disease can affect our patients here in Amherst.
Risk Factors Associated with Alzheimer’s Disease
There are numerous factors — like genetics, age, and family history — that are identified as contributing components of developing Alzheimer’s. Researchers are now suggesting that there are also risk factors that we can control. One factor that we have the ability to influence is our dental health!
Although dental health and Alzheimer’s disease may not sound related, a study from the University of Central Lancashire discovered a link between gum disease and this cognitive disease.
Can Gum Disease Cause Alzheimer’s Disease?
British researchers found the association between gum disease and Alzheimer’s disease by looking at several brain samples. They looked at 10 brain samples from patients with dementia and 10 brain samples from people who did not have the disease.
The findings revealed the presence of Porphyromonas gingivalis in the samples from patients with dementia. This bacterium is typically associated with chronic gum disease. Researchers suggest that bacteria can enter the bloodstream through normal activities like chewing, eating, and brushing teeth.
Once in the bloodstream, the bacteria can be carried to different parts of the body, including the brain. If Porphyromonas gingivalis finds its way to the brain, it can cause an immune system response — leading to changes in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
While there isn’t enough research to actually establish a causal relationship between gum disease and Alzheimer’s, this study adds to previous research linking the two conditions. A 2010 study from New York University found that long-term gum inflammation could increase the risk of cognitive dysfunction.
In the future, researchers hope that using blood tests to look for Porphyromonas gingivalis will help predict the development of Alzheimer’s disease for high-risk patients.
Contact Amherst Village Dental
The relationship between gum disease and cognitive decline isn’t the only instance of dental health affecting overall wellness. The state of an individual’s oral health can be linked to several systemic conditions like heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
The key to taking care of your smile is investing in proper at-home care, which includes daily brushing and flossing, and regular dental appointments. Here at Amherst Village Dental, your smile is our number one priority! We offer a range of services to address each patient’s individual concerns. From routine dental cleanings to full-mouth reconstruction, we understand each patient needs individualized care to give them a healthy, beautiful smile.
To start your journey to a healthier smile, contact our office today to schedule your next appointment with Dr. Bernard Ang.