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Understanding the Link Between Gum Disease & Alzheimer’s Disease

February 25, 2019

Woman examining her gums in the mirror

Most people know that screening for gum disease and other common oral health conditions is an important part of dental checkups and teeth cleanings. What many people don’t know is that keeping up with these regular dental exams and teeth cleanings may also be diminishing their risk for common chronic and systemic illnesses like Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, diabetes, pancreatic cancer, and many others. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at the potential link between gum disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is a condition that causes progressive memory loss and diminished cognitive function. There is still no known cause of Alzheimer’s disease, but recent research indicates that the disease may be caused by one of the bacteria linked to gum disease.

What is Gum Disease?

Periodontal (gum) disease is an oral health condition that occurs when oral bacteria was products damage and destroy the supportive soft tissue and bone structures that hold teeth in place. Gum disease can lead to sores, infection, and inflammation, and research indicates that these oral infections may be linked to a number of systemic illnesses, including Alzheimer’s disease.

How are They Related?

Traditionally, it was believed that Alzheimer’s disease was caused by the accumulation of amyloid and tau proteins in the brain. New research indicates that amlyoid plaques contain p. gingivalis, the bacteria associated with gum disease and the enzymes used by the p. gingivalis bacteria to breakdown tissue may actually be the cause of Alzheimer’s disease. Further research is necessary, but in the meantime, keeping up with your dental exams and teeth cleanings and receiving adequate treatment for gum disease may just diminish your risk for Alzheimer’s disease and other systemic illnesses.

How Can Your Dentist Help?

Many patients struggle with gum disease and associated issues for years because, even after treatment, they still have oral bacteria that produce acidic plaque that leads to gum disease and increases risk for Alzheimer’s disease. In addition to deep cleanings and improved daily hygiene, a dentist should also offer antibacterial treatments to reduce the numbers of oral bacteria and the plaque they produce.  For best results, periodontal therapies should include oral and/or topical antimicrobial therapies.

Meet the Los Gatos Dental Group

At Los Gatos Dental Group, our skilled team of dentistry professionals helps patients to prevent gum disease with regular screenings during dental checkups. We can also provide the information you need to maintain optimal at-home hygiene. If you’ve been diagnosed with gum disease at any level, our team will create a personalized treatment plan that incorporates improved at-home hygiene, more frequent professional teeth cleanings, scaling and root planing, and antimicrobial therapies in our dental office and at home. When you’re ready to get started, call the Los Gatos Dental Group to schedule an appointment in our dental office in Los Gatos.

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