Effect of Dental Cleanings On Alzheimer’s Disease

According to recent research (1), people who have gum disease or poor dental hygiene could be at higher risk of catching Alzheimer’s compared to those who have healthy teeth.

Researchers have discovered the bacterium called “Porphyromonas Gingivalis” in the brains of dementia patients when they were alive. This microorganism usually causes oral health problems such as chronic gum (periodontal) disease.

Gum Disease and Alzheimer’s

Gingivitis is the primary stage of gum disease. This occurs when inflammation of the gums develops in response to the accumulation of dead cells or bacterial plaque on the surface of the teeth.

Gingivitis is generally reversible and may affect up to half of all adults. If left untreated, “sub-gingival pockets” form between the gum and tooth, which are later filled with pathogens. Formation of these pockets indicates the gum inflammation has converted to periodontitis. It becomes almost impossible to get rid of the bacteria, though various dental treatments can help reduce their growth.

Alzheimer’s patients may not be able to tell you, so you should look for signs of poor oral health. They may include:

  • Swollen or bleeding gums
  • Bite their lip or inner cheek
  • Avoid eating foods that are too cold or hot
  • Drool
  • Have a white film on their tongue
  • Act aggressively and try to bite you
  • Have bad breath
  • Have a swollen pimple or a spot on their gum

The causative organism of gingivitis in Alzheimer’s patients, P. Gingivalis is responsible for many other forms of gum disease. It is also found to migrate from the mouth to the brain in mice and reproduce all of the classic signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

Existing research (2) shows herpes type 1 virus and other types of bacteria can also cause Alzheimer’s in old patients.

How Can Dental Hygiene Help?

The latest research (3) provides significant evidence that chronic and ill-treated gum disease is one of the causes of Alzheimer’s disease. But before you start panicking about your oral health, it’s essential to know that not everyone with gum infection develops Alzheimer’s disease.

Various researches and clinical trials also proved that healthy eating habits and proper dental hygiene could not only save you from cavities – but also prevent the development of Alzheimer’s and help you remain cognitively sharp. Follow the basic oral hygiene tips by the American Dental Association to keep the mouth of your loved ones healthy.

The bacteria P. Gingivalis is highly sensitive to fluoride. So brush the teeth of Alzheimer’s patient twice a day with a fluoride-rich toothpaste. It is also effective at eliminating sub-gingival pockets between the tooth and gum. Alternatively, you can also give him water mixed with fluoride.

  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to get the hard-to-reach areas such as gum spaces. Don’t forget to replace the brush every 2 to 3 months.
  • Clean between gum spaces daily with an interdental brush or floss.
  • If they wear dentures, take them out for 4 hours every day and clean them regularly to keep the oral lining healthy.
  • Getting a dental checkup every six months or a year.

Outbound links/References

  1. http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/5/1/eaau3333
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6202583/
  3. https://www.perio.org/consumer/alzheimers-and-periodontal-disease

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