Could a good oral hygiene routine reduce your risk of developing dementia?

September 11th, 2017

Throughout the UK there is a growing awareness of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, and of the devastation it can bring to individuals and their families. Scientists across the world are working hard to investigate the disease, and to learn more about what causes it, and ultimately how it can be treated or prevented. Previous research has suggested a possible link between dementia and gum disease. More recent research, as reported in the Daily Mail, strengthens this claim. Today we’d like to bring you more information about this new research, and some tips on how you can avoid gum disease.

The study recently described in the Daily Mail featured 28,000 participants. Over 9000 of the participants had been recently diagnosed with a common form of gum disease called periodontitis, with the remaining participants not affected by this condition. The research, which was published in the journal Alzheimer’s Research and Therapy, found that participants who had experienced gum disease for a period of ten years or longer had a much higher chance of going on to develop dementia during their lifetime.

So why might gum disease be a predictor of, or be linked to, dementia? It is understood that the bacteria associated with gum disease have higher than normal levels of antibodies present. These particular antibodies are associated with an increase to the number of inflammatory molecules found elsewhere in the body. Therefore, as patients suffering from gum disease chew, they are effectively releasing the bacteria into their bloodstream, and increasing the number of inflammatory molecules present in their bodies. These molecules then speed up their decline if dementia is already diagnosed, or may trigger symptoms associated with the disease.

The research carried out is important as it adds to a growing body of evidence suggesting a link between gum disease and dementia. As this association becomes increasingly supported, it is vital that we consider how we might be able to reduce our chances of developing gum disease.

There are two main types of gum disease that you might hear of: gingivitis and periodontal disease. If you are experiencing either of these conditions, you might notice that your gums have become inflamed or red. Your gums may be sore, or you might have some infection to the tissues surrounding your teeth. If gum disease occurs over a long period of time, symptoms might progress to the point where you lose teeth, as the bones which keep your teeth in place are gradually eroded.

To improve the likelihood to keeping gum disease at bay, it’s vital to remove the plaque from your teeth on a daily basis. Brushing twice a day is the first step to take, but it’s also important to use interdental brushes and dental floss to clean in between your teeth as well. If you’re not sure how to do this, ask your dentist for advice. Following a simple but consistent oral hygiene routine is fundamental to reducing your risk of gum disease. It’s also important to avoid sugary foods and drinks where possible too.

If you’re at all concerned about your teeth or gums, or are experiencing symptoms that you feel may be associated with gum disease, have a chat to your dentist. They’ll be able to take a look and provide advice that will help you to maintain your oral health.

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