Good Oral Hygiene May Prevent Dementia & Alzheimer
Contributing Author: Anu Shree
A recent study has highlighted and suggests that poor oral hygiene can increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Researchers have discovered that people suffering from dementia tend to have a specific bacteria, Porphyromonas gingivalis in their brain. It is this same bacteria that is commonly associated with chronic periodontal (gum) disease.
In their study, the researchers have realized that the bacteria, when it reaches the brain, can trigger an immune system response. This is similar to just like they do in the mouth. The triggered immune response tends to destroy the brain cells. This mechanism leads to the changes in the brain, causing symptoms like confusion and short- term memory loss, just like in Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimer’s Disease (AD)
Alzheimer’s is the most common form of Dementia. It is a neuro-degenerative disorder that affects the cognitive ability and psychiatric health of individuals. Alzheimer’s is a progressive disorder that attacks the brain cells, the neurons, resulting in memory loss, poor or diminished language skills as well as behavioral changes.
Alzheimer’s is a complex brain disorder which can be diagnosed after several lab tests and brain scans. The doctors might even go through a detailed medical history, and neurological tests to determine the cognitive skills.
AD has many symptoms, some of which start showing early. The first symptom is memory loss that disrupts life and causes difficulty with simple problem solving issues. Confusion in time and place, the inability to communicate and difficulty in performing everyday task like bathing, brushing teeth or even getting dressed. Patients with Alzheimers can also face some psychiatric changes and start suffering from depression, changes in personality, agitation and hallucinations.
Periodontal disease is a low- grade, inflammatory disease. It occurs in the presence of the pathogenic bacteria that can cause gingivitis inflammation, bone loss and if left untreated tooth loss. The problem with periodontal disease is that it cannot be identified on its own. People who do not visit the dentist do not find out about the problem until it is very late.
Most common way in which the microbes reach the brain is through the bloodstream. The periodontal bacteria is release into the bloodstream during chewing and flossing and even during the dental treatment.
The bacteria can then remain in the bloodstream for at least three hours. In older adults it is more risky as the bacteria can remain in the periodontal pockets and keep getting into the bloodstream.
Other than periodontal disease, oral infections after the age of 65 can also lead to dementia…
As the body ages, the infections become common. Like the oral herpes. The herpes virus is latent in the peripheral nervous system and can be activated by high stress, illness and fatigue. This decreases the body’s ability to fight infection. There is a strong correlation between the Herpes simplex Virus (HSV) and AD.
Today, persons pay more attention to their oral health than our previous generations. They understand the importance of oral health and spend more time in taking care of it. However, contrary to that practice though, persons today have increased health issues like depression, high blood pressure and heart diseases.
Those persons who suffer from arthritis, poor vision as well as mobility issues can have difficulty in maintaining their oral health too. This contributes to chronic oral infections, deeper periodontal pockets and even tooth loss. As the ability to chew is compromised so is the diet and they start suffering from even nutritional deficiencies.
It is important to educate Alzheimer’s patients about the tools that can help them with good oral hygiene habits. As the dementia progresses patients need to be shown how to do the simple tasks, including taking care of their dental health.
However the condition has been linked primarily to old people only, if it affects healthy people or not, is yet to be concluded.
The researchers continue their work in finding any links between Alzheimer’s Disease and Dental Disease. These records are yet to finally come to solid results and conclusions. It is an undeniable fact that you have to take care of the teeth. From our research and development team, we have even found capable and qualified cosmetic dental practitioners in Delhi. For many this may be a more cost effective solution and location to have work done, while reducing any possibilities of serious issues arising in dental health later in life.
Of course there are different types of cosmetic dentistry – such as:
* Teeth Whitening
* Dental Veneers
* Dental Crowns
* Dental Implants
If treated in time, the bacteria can be prevented from transferring to the bloodstream and affecting the brain. Though Alzheimer’s can be caused by various reasons, it is much better too take precaution at an early age.