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Connection Between Alzheimer’s Disease & Chronic Gum Disease

September 3, 2017

Senior woman and care giver sitting outdoorsYou may have heard a dentist or physician mention the “mouth body connection” or “oral systemic link.” There are lots of terms floating around to describe a variety of recent discoveries in medical and dental research. The bottom line, researchers are finding that patients with poor oral health are much more likely to suffer from chronic illnesses like diabetes and heart disease. Researchers at Taiwan’s Chung Shan Medical Research University have further linked advanced gum disease, periodontitis, to an increase in Alzheimer’s disease cases.

Current Research from Taiwan

The Taiwanese researchers found that people who had gum disease for 10 or more years, were 70% more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. These studies were part of a continued investigation into low grade inflammation (like gum disease) and its effects on overall health. Research has supported a clear connection between chronic inflammation and serious health concerns including increased risk for diabetes, heart disease, and now Alzheimer’s disease. Only time and continued research will tell whether or not preventing gum disease will have an impact on lower rates of chronic and systemic illness.

Preventing Gum Disease

Like most oral health issues, prevention is the key to avoiding gum disease. In fact, periodontal disease is completely preventable for patients with a good in-office and at-home oral hygiene routine. Twice a year dental checkups and professional teeth cleanings will allow a dentist and/or hygienist to carefully screen for early warning signs of gum disease. When caught in the earliest stages, gum disease is completely treatable. In addition to visiting a trusted dental office biannually, patients should also be taking care of their smiles at home. Brush teeth twice a day for at least two minutes at a time. Use a soft bristled toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste for best results. You also need to floss at least once each day to remove plaque from between teeth.

Periodontal Therapy

In the early stages, called gingivitis, a deep cleaning followed by more frequent maintenance checkups will typically be adequate to fully renew oral health. However, advanced gum disease, or periodontitis, is much more difficult to treat. You can never completely get rid of gum disease once it has reached this advanced stage. Instead, treatments are used to suppress the problematic symptoms of the disease including inflammation. A dentist may use scaling, root planing, antibiotic therapy, and other more advanced surgical and nonsurgical periodontal therapies to restore oral health for patients suffering from periodontitis.

Meet Dr. Ruff

At Ascot Aesthetic Implants & Dentistry, Angela C. Ruff, DDS and her Fayetteville dental team work hard to offer gentle, effective preventive, restorative, and cosmetic dentistry services. If you’d like to find out more about gum disease treatments or any of our other dental procedures, give our team a call. We’ll be happy to answer any questions. If it’s been more than six months since your last dental checkup and teeth cleaning, it’s been too long! schedule an appointment right away to ensure you maintain the healthiest smile.