Oral & Vision Health Blog

The Connection Between Oral Health and Alzheimer's

The connection between your oral health and your overall health can’t be overstated. Taking care of your teeth can help serious medical conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. But more and more research is showing that your oral health can be a factor for neurological conditions – particularly Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s affects over fifty million people worldwide and is the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S.. While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s or clear prevention strategies, medical research has identified many risk factors for Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia. Here’s how poor oral health habits can increase your risk of developing Alzheimer’s later in life.  

  • The Connection Between Gum Disease and Alzheimer’s

Gum disease (gingivitis) and periodontal disease (periodontitis) have been connected to Alzheimer’s through the Porphyromonas gingivalis species of bacteria. This bacterium commonly presents itself in gum and periodontal disease and has been shown to move from the mouth to the brain. It releases enzymes that destroy nerve cells and can lead to Alzheimer’s disease. This means gum disease and periodontal disease can increase your risk factor for Alzheimer’s, particularly if you go untreated.

  • What You Can Do To Prevent It

With this information, one of the best ways to reduce your risk for Alzheimer’s is to take care of your oral health. Reducing plaque buildup and keeping your gums healthy is key for keeping porphyromonas gingivalis from getting into your bloodstream. If you have or suspect you have gum disease, seek out treatment from a dentist immediately. Outside of that, the two biggest things you can do to keep your mouth plaque free are:

  • Hygiene
    Your daily oral hygiene routine is your first line of defense against plaque buildup. Brushing twice a day and flossing once a day is the best way to keep your mouth clean. For more information on the four pillars of a good oral hygiene routine, read here.
  • Preventive Care
    Hygiene isn’t the only component to your oral health routine. Preventive care, particularly your regular cleanings and exams, is an important part of maintaining your oral health and reducing plaque buildup in your mouth. There are different kinds of cleanings, so make sure you consult with your dentist regularly and get the preventive treatment that is right for your mouth!

Gum disease may not be a direct cause of Alzheimer’s, but it is a risk factor you can easily mitigate with good oral hygiene and regular preventive care. Plus, taking care of your oral health is a key part of taking care of your overall health – so you’ll be doing your body a favor in more ways than one. Another big part of taking care of your dental health is making sure you have dental insurance that meets your needs. To figure out what type of dental plan will work best for you, take our FREE quiz below!

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