Gum disease often results from infections in the tissues that hold teeth in place. Because the mouth is home to about 700 species of bacteria, poor oral hygiene can inadvertently cause gum disease to develop more quickly. However, recent studies have begun associating Alzheimer’s disease, a neurodegenerative disease, with periodontal disease development. Some of the most interesting connections made between oral health and Alzheimer’s find how bacteria and blood flow and dementia affect and influence one another, making oral health for the elderly ever more important.
How Oral Health Influences Dementia Symptoms
Because Alzheimer’s disease influences cognitive memory, function, and behavior, it often occurs due to complex mechanisms throughout the body. When degeneration occurs, the brain begins to lose function, so does the body’s other natural processes over time. According to studies conducted through the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, the study suggests that bacteria and inflammatory molecules can travel from the mouth to the brain through the bloodstream, which ultimately influences the long-term effects of dementia. The study also concluded that older and have signs of gum disease might develop Alzheimer’s disease later on in life. Those who died from the condition had the bacterium P. Gingivalis.
However, this study’s conclusions still require follow-up reviews and counter-studies to confirm these effects, as the reverse of this reasoning could also apply. Those who often have Alzheimer’s disease may develop poor oral habits due to dementia, which can increase the chances of developing gum disease, tooth loss, and periodontal disease later on in life. What this shows is an association and not a cause. It’s essential to consider many of the other factors that could play a part in developing Alzheimer’s disease.
How Dentists Focus On Helping Alzheimer’s Patients
To combat Alzheimer’s disease in elderly patients, dentists who often work with those older, whether through community groups or with families, should have preventative measures prepared ahead of time to help those in need. Dentists that work with the elderly should take more time and attention into providing more accessible dental care to those who require it by providing the following:
- Dentists can help their patients schedule dental appointments ahead of time to help keep track of their oral health and assist them during their appointments.
- For those with severe oral health problems, dentists should provide customizable treatment plans to help them receive the dental services they need and gain treatment efficiently.
- Dentists should also offer more preventative services, including fluoride treatments and dental sealants, to give patients long-term solutions to their oral health problems.
- Providing communication in friendly, approachable tones while explaining their oral health can help strengthen relations between dentists and patients
- With these risks in mind, dentists need to provide more proactive solutions for Alzheimer’s to help relieve them of their condition and help them receive the best oral care possible.