Dentists, physicians and scientists have known for some time about the connection between gum disease and other health issues such as heart disease, diabetes, respiratory infection and osteoporosis. This bacterial infection is also associated with dementia and now there is a study showing that periodontal bacteria supports the development of plaques that lead to Alzheimer’s disease. Read on for more information about the connection between the neuropathology found in Alzheimer’s and gum disease in Plano.
Gum Disease and Alzheimer’s
Researchers at the University of Illinois conducted a study on mice; some were exposed to periodontal disease bacteria and others were not. Those that were exposed had inflammation and degeneration of brain cells similar to the effects of Alzheimer’s in humans.
The exposed mice were also found to have:
- Higher levels of accumulated amyloid plaque, which is also found in brain tissue of patient’s with Alzheimer’s disease
- More brain inflammation and fewer intact neurons (brain cells)
- Periodontal bacteria DNA in brain tissue
- A bacterial protein inside neurons
Alzheimer’s research is often performed on mice that are genetically prone to the disease. This study, however, was further supported by signs of Alzheimer’s disease in “wild-type” mice. And, experimental mice engineered to have the disease were found to have worsened symptoms if they had gum infections.
Poor Oral Hygiene Leads to Gum Disease
Millions of bacteria call your mouth home. Along with mucus and food particles, bacteria form a colorless biofilm on teeth called plaque. Brushing and flossing remove the daily accumulation of plaque. If you fail to clean your teeth, then plaque could harden into tartar—also called calculus—, which brushing and flossing cannot remove. As a result, gum or periodontal disease can develop along with a variety of health problems.
Some of the signs of gum disease include:
- Red and swollen gum tissue
- Gums that bleed when you brush or floss
- Receding gums that make your teeth look longer
- Chronic bad breath
- Loose teeth
- Pain with chewing and biting
- Tooth loss
Gum Disease Prevention
You and your dentist in Plano can work together to help you avoid gum disease. First, be sure to brush your teeth at least twice every day. Use a brush with soft bristles and fluoride toothpaste. Floss once a day to remove food trapped between teeth, as well as plaque.
See your dentist regularly for dental checkups. At these appointments, your gum health will be assessed. Finally, don’t smoke. Smoking increases your risk for gum disease and decreases the chances of successful treatment if the disease is present.
If you are experiencing any of the above-mentioned symptoms of gum disease, please call a dentist today to schedule a checkup. You may not only preserve your oral health, but your brain health, too.
Meet the Doctor
Dr. Jason Montgomery is a dentist in Plano, TX. He and his staff of dental hygienists and assistants provide preventive care including periodontal therapy for the treatment of gum disease. If you need to schedule an appointment, call the office today.