The Hidden Connection between Oral Hygiene and Alzheimer’s Disease

Most of us can remember having our mothers remind us that brush our teeth twice a day was important. And mom was right.

In fact, she was more right than she knew. The effect of proper oral hygiene on our health, particularly on our brain health, is only now coming to light.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately half of all adults in the United States suffer from some degree of gum disease. Without proper oral hygiene, a person’s gums will become swollen and infected. This will cause a buildup of plaque and bacteria, a condition known as gingivitis. Left untreated, the structure supporting the teeth will begin to weaken, a condition known as gum disease, or periodontitis.

A research effort designed to study the effects of gum disease on overall health was undertaken several decades ago. Researchers analyzed data from approximately 600 men for 32 years. At the end of the study, the authors concluded that periodontal disease is directly related to cognitive decline.

Newer research has linked periodontal disease with an increased buildup of beta amyloid plaque in the brain. The buildup of beta amyloid plaque is a known marker of Alzheimer’s disease. Further evidence of the connection between periodontal disease and Alzheimer’s disease was provided by several studies which showed that a particular type of bacteria found in individuals with periodontal disease was also found in the brains of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease.

In the latter study, researchers zeroed in on the enzyme gingipain, and determined that it has a strong effect on tau proteins. This finding was very important, since it is well-known that tau proteins also play a significant role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers are now trying to design a gingapain inhibitor in the hope that it will slow or prevent the cognitive decline associated with of Alzheimer’s disease.

It is important to be diligent about our oral hygiene. It won’t just help us look better, it will help us remain healthier longer. In particular, taking good care of our teeth and gums may help us prevent or slow the ravaging effects of Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive decline.

At Hamilton Grove Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, in Hamilton, NJ, we are experts in handling all levels of cognitive impairment, from mild cognitive impairment to Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

We have created a unique environment and care program specifically designed to address the needs of this population. Our Alzheimer’s Unit is situated in a separate, secure wing to ensure the safety and well-being of our residents. It offers a structured daily routine, mind-stimulating activities, excellent social interaction, with optimal patient independence in a calm and soothing atmosphere.

Read our reviews on caring.com, wellness.com, and senioradvisor.com to hear what our residents and their families have to say.

Or better yet, come see for yourself: Contact us to schedule a tour by calling 609-588-5800 or by clicking here.

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