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Alzheimer’s and Oral Health: Understanding the Connection

added on: November 18, 2019
senior couple holding babies

In honor of November being National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, your Wilmington holistic dentist wants to recognize our patients and families who have been affected. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, the disease is the most common form of dementia. Dementia is a general term for memory loss and your other cognitive abilities that you need for daily survival. The association says Alzheimer’s accounts for about 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases.

What does Alzheimer’s disease have to do with dentistry? As more and more research is conducted, it turns out there could be a significant link between Alzheimer’s disease and gum disease. 

Let’s take a look at the connection and what it means.

Finding the Scientific Connection

In the past, researchers have found there to be a link between periodontal (gum) disease and an increased risk of heart disease. But earlier this year, Science Advances published a study showing that bacteria that lead to gum disease could also have a connection to Alzheimer’s. 

The bacteria is known as Porphyromonas gingivalis, seems to have the ability to move from inside the mouth to our brains. After the bacteria enters the brain, it causes the release of a gingipains, or enzymes that can destroy nerve cells. This is where scientists think the connection begins because the destruction of these cells leads to memory loss or, even worse, Alzheimer’s. Scientists are hoping the next step is the possible development of a drug that successfully blocks harmful bacterial enzymes from entering the brain and slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s.

How to Protect Yourself and Your Family

While science works to develop a potential vaccine or antitoxin to fight the bad bacteria, the public will most likely not have access to it for many years. It’s essential to do everything you can at home, and during visits to our Wilmington holistic dental office to make sure your gums stay healthy.

Here are some healthy habits you and your family can use to help take care of your teeth for consistent oral and overall health:

Regular brushing and flossing – Now you can see why you must maintain good oral health habits at home. Everyone in your family should be brushing twice a day for two minutes and flossing once. Be sure to thoroughly clean all of your teeth, especially those hard to reach molars in the back where plaque and bacteria like to hideout. 

Oil pulling – Ancient healers used the practice of oil pulling to help rid the mouth of harmful bacteria and naturally whiten teeth. You can try oil pulling by swishing a tablespoon of coconut oil in your mouth for 20 minutes on an empty stomach. 

Be mindful of your diet – Your holistic dentist in Wilmington (and even your primary care doctor) will always tell you that a diet low in sugar is best. You’ll want to focus more on getting the right amount of vegetables, fruits, nuts, proteins, etc. If your diet is healthy, your mouth and your body stand a better chance at remaining healthy too.

Stop smoking – Since we’re talking about gum disease, we need to mention smoking and tobacco use. People who smoke tend to be at a higher risk of developing periodontal issues. Nicotine use also reduced the possibility of successful treatment. 

The biggest, most important thing you can do to protect your mouth and your body from gum disease and bacteria is to see your All About Smiles team. When you stick to your regular dental hygiene cleaning schedule and visit with your holistic dentist in Wilmington, you’re going to get access to some of the most highly trained dental experts in the area. They have the knowledge and technology to help you and your smile stay healthy. 

If someone in your family has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and requires gentle, holistic dental care, please don’t hesitate to call us. Folks living with this disease must continue to receive the dental and overall health care they deserve. We’re here to help!

Learn More About Your Dental Health with All About Smiles!

It all adds up to better health, smile, body, and spirit!