February 15, 2019
When you think of your oral health, it’s normal for the wellness of your mouth, teeth and gums to come to mind. The reality, though, is the effects are far-reaching, and they can impact other parts of your body, including your brain. New research has found evidence of a link between gum (periodontal) disease and the development of Alzheimer’s disease. As you keep reading, learn more about the connection between the two conditions and why it’s important to receive periodontal therapy in Southlake.
What is Periodontal Disease?
When bacteria are allowed to grow uncontrollably, they will eventually work their way beneath the gum line. Untreated, the result can be periodontal disease, which is the inflammation and irritation of the gums.
Here are some of the initial symptoms that may be noticed:
- Red spots
- Increased sensitivity
- Offensive breath
- Frequent bleeding
- Unpleasant taste in the mouth
If you notice any of the above warning signs, you should contact your dentist. Ignoring the symptoms could spell greater problems in the future.
How Periodontal Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease are Connected
One of the results of periodontal disease is the blood that permeates the gums can become inflamed. The bacteria-infested fluid can eventually flow to the brain and cause inflammation and plaque buildup there as well.
This can contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s disease, which is a degenerative brain condition that attacks the grey matter and limbic system, both of which aid in memory storage.
New research has identified a common denominator between periodontal disease and Alzheimer’s disease – a form of bacterium called P. gingivalis. Using enzymes called gingipains, the bacteria feed on tissue in the mouth and the brain.
This finding has led scientists and medical professionals to determine that bacteria growth in the brain is not the result of Alzheimer’s disease. Instead, it is one of the main contributors to the latter.
Treating Periodontal Disease
One way to decrease the chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease is to seek treatment for periodontal disease before it progresses. A non-surgical method available involves the usage of ultrasonic technology that breaks up the plaque and bacteria along the gum line.
The dentist may also incorporate antibiotic therapy that eradicates the bacteria. For the more acute cases, it’s typically recommended for patients to receive several rounds of treatment to ensure the bacteria don’t return.
The most important take-away is to be proactive if you notice any of the warning signs listed above. It’s also critical to maintain regular visits to your dentist in Southlake for cleanings and checkups. In doing so, you have a better chance of preventing both diseases and maintaining the best overall health possible.
About the Author
Dr. J. Lee Pettigrew earned his dental degree from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. He has since gone on to provide top-notch dental care for the past 30 years. To further expand his knowledge and sharpen his skills, Dr. Pettigrew takes over 100 hours of continuing education annually. A member of the Southwest Academy of Restorative Dentistry, he helps patients enjoy excellent gum health at his private practice, and he can be reached for more information through his website.
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