Gum Disease May Initiate Alzheimer’s Disease

Periodontal disease is a common dental condition that affects half of American adults over the age of 30 and is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults in the developed world. Beyond tooth loss, periodontal disease is linked to heart disease, diabetes, stroke, rheumatoid arthritis, and now, more recently, Alzheimer’s disease.

The word “periodontal” means “around the tooth.” Periodontal disease, also called periodontitis because the areas around the tooth become inflamed, is the disease of the tissues surrounding the teeth and the jawbone that keeps teeth in place. It starts with bacteria in the mouth, and if left untreated, can lead to tooth loss and health problems.

Periodontitis and Alzheimer’s Disease

A new study has demonstrated a possible link between the bacteria that cause periodontitis and neurochemicals associated with Alzheimer’s disease. The study found that Porphyromonas gingivalis, the bacteria that cause periodontitis, was found in brain tissue, and a bacterial protein was found in neurons of subjects with periodontitis.

Am I At Risk of Developing Periodontitis?

Periodontal disease is caused by bacteria in plaque that’s left untreated. The bacteria in our mouths combine with mucus, leftover food particles, and other molecules to form plaque on teeth. Normally this is removed by brushing and flossing, but sometimes it doesn’t all get removed.

To get rid of this bacteria, our immune systems react just as they would to a bacteria in the rest of the body. It sends defense cells to the gums, which causes them to become inflamed. As the gums swell, they pull away from the teeth, which creates pockets that allow more bacteria to settle in.

Some factors that can lead to periodontitis also include:

  • Poor nutrition
  • Stress
  • Hormonal changes (puberty, pregnancy, or menopause)
  • Smoking or tobacco use
  • Genetics
  • Clenching or grinding teeth

Preventing and Treating Periodontitis

The best way to prevent advanced gum disease is to take your oral health seriously by brushing your teeth twice daily, flossing once a day, and scheduling regular dental check-ups with Proud Smiles in Sandy Springs, GA. Your oral health is intricately linked to your overall health, and only you can make sure your mouth and body are healthy.