Sadly, dementia is the 5th leading cause of death worldwide and Alzheimer’s accounts for 70% of all cases. Researchers have been working hard to find better methods for prevention and treatment and have recently found a surprising link between the gums and brain health. Keep reading to find out more about how a periodontist in Houston can treat gum disease and lower your risk of many diseases, including dementia. It’s information that just might save your life.
How Is Gum Disease Linked To The Brain?
An estimated 65 million Americans have some form of gum disease, so it’s more important than ever to learn about the risks it poses to the brain. This recent article from New Scientist looks at a study on how gum disease could cause Alzheimer’s. For many years, doctors believed that amyloid plaques in the brain were the cause, but it’s now thought that these plaques are only a symptom.
In fact, the current theory is that amyloid plaques form to protect the brain from an infection by bacteria often found in the mouth: Porphyromonas gingivalis (or P. gingivalis). This is the same bacteria that causes gum disease.
Researchers haven’t determined exactly how P. gingivalis bacteria travels from the mouth to the brain, but they do know that plaque and tartar contain large amounts of it.
When this bacteria collects under the gumline, it leads to inflammation of the gums (e.g. swelling, tenderness, or bleeding.) It’s thought that it also enters the bloodstream and travels throughout the entire body, including the brain, where it leads to infection and inflammation there as well.
More studies are being done, but doctors are hopeful that this information helps in the ongoing fight against dementia and Alzheimer’s.
How Is Gum Disease Treated?
In addition to being connected to the brain, gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss and also increases the risk for heart disease, stroke, pregnancy complications, and even some cancers. Clearly, it’s incredibly important to keep your gums healthy!
To prevent gum disease, good oral hygiene habits and regular checkups are crucial. Once gum disease has developed, it can’t be cured, but a periodontist (gum specialist) has effective options for gum disease treatment in Houston that can keep it from progressing:
- Deep cleanings – Also called scaling and root planing, this is a special type of cleaning in which the tartar and bacteria are removed from under the gumline. It also involves carefully smoothing the roots of the teeth to prevent bacteria from re-accumulating.
- Periodontal maintenance – These “maintenance cleanings” are usually recommended on 3 to 4-month intervals to maintain the progress made from earlier gum treatments.
- Osseous surgery – This procedure has been successfully used to treat more advanced stages of gum disease for many years. It involves removing any damaged gum tissue and bacteria from around the roots and reshaping the bone to better support the teeth.
With good hygiene habits and professional care from a periodontist, you can lower all the risks associated with gum disease. With these simple guidelines, you’ll have a healthier smile and lead a healthier life at the same time.