Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia in adults over 65 years of age, and it’s one of the top 10 leading causes of death in the U.S. But did you know there may be a link to oral health?
In 2019, a study was published in Science Advances by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. It suggests a potential link between Alzheimer’s and periodontal bacteria, the strain of bacteria that causes gum disease.
The researchers confirmed that these bacteria can travel from the mouth to the brain and were found in brain tissue, spinal fluid, and saliva. Once there, the bacteria produce toxins that destroy neurons in the brain.
These findings add supporting evidence to the link between gum disease and Alzheimer’s disease. But more research is needed to understand the link between the two and how bacteria from the mouth got there in the first place.
WHAT TO TAKE AWAY FROM THE ALZHEIMER’S RESEARCH STUDIES
Research continues to support the importance of oral health for overall health, and both can worsen as you age if you ignore them.
Keeping your mouth healthy and managing gum disease is important to your oral and overall health. But older adults can be more susceptible to infection if they have dry mouth, are a smoker, or take certain medications. In addition, various factors can come into play risking their oral health, such as:
- Lack of dental benefits after retirement when they no longer have employer-sponsored dental benefits (Delta Dental of Colorado offers individual dental plans).
- Medicare does not cover dental care, although some Medicare Advantage plans are available for purchase to cover dental care.
- Dry mouth, tooth decay or tooth loss, and tooth sensitivity can contribute to poor nutrition.
- A lack of transportation may make regular dental visits difficult.
We recommend keeping a focus on oral health to avoid problems with overall health while following these lifelong habits and tips to keep your mouth healthy:
- Brush twice every day with fluoride toothpaste
- Floss regularly
- Visit the dentist once to twice a year
- Drink water (it’s better for your whole body)
- Eat a balanced diet