How Proper Dental Health Can Slow Down Aging
We all know it’s important to take care of our teeth to brighten our smiles and prevent gum disease. However, keeping our teeth happy and healthy not only can maintain their natural luster, but can also help to prevent several different conditions such as high blood pressure and heart disease. New studies have shown that taking care of your teeth can impact your lifespan and risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
How Is Oral Health and Alzheimer’s Connected?
It is well known that the bacteria associated with periodontal disease can enter the bloodstream and lead to health complications. A recent study has now expanded this research to include the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. The study looked at 48 elderly individuals and tested for a correlation between biomarkers connected with Alzheimer’s disease present in bacteria commonly found in plaque that grows on teeth. A biomarker is defined as, “objective medical signs (as opposed to symptoms reported by the patient) used to measure the presence or progress of a disease, or the effects of treatment.” In this study, researchers found that it may be possible that bacteria, which can lead to the development of Alzheimer’s, may be able to enter the bloodstream and subsequently reach the brain, the same way that other bacteria can lead to heart disease and other health complications.
Gums Are the Gateway To The Body
The species of bacteria responsible is called Porphyromonas gingivalis and once it reaches the brain, it releases a special enzyme called gingipains that are able to destroy nerve cells resulting in memory loss. If left long enough, the damage can lead to early signs of Alzheimer’s. This bacteria is able to reach the brain by entering into the bloodstream through the gums.
Blood Pressure & Your Teeth
According to the American Heart Association, research has found that oral care can directly impact blood pressure. The study found that of 3,600 people with high blood pressure, those with healthier gums have lower pressures and responded better to blood pressure-reducing medications, compared to individuals who have gum disease. According to the study, people with gum disease were 20% less likely to fall within the healthy blood pressure range.
How To Protect Against Alzheimer’s With Proper Oral Care
- Schedule regular visits with your dentist: Your dentist and dental hygienist are professionally trained to notice complications before they arise. By regularly scheduling routine checkups and cleanings, you can help ensure your teeth remain in good health. A proper cleaning can remove plaque from the hard-to-reach places that are commonly missed with a toothbrush or floss. With clean teeth come healthy gums, and healthy gums can protect against the bacteria responsible for Alzheimer’s.
- Brush properly twice per day: Forgetting to properly brush twice every day is easy to do. As studies have shown, if you forget to properly care for your teeth, it is possible that you may be forgetting a lot more as you age! At home care is the most important thing you can do to protect yourself against periodontal disease and the number of complications that follow as a result. By brushing properly twice per day, you are ensuring that the bacteria responsible for causing these complications cannot grow and develop on your teeth.
- Remember to floss: Brushing your teeth is the first step to protect your gums from harmful bacteria, but equally important is remembering to floss. Flossing can reach the hard-to-get places, such as in between your teeth, to protect against plaque and tartar buildup and the bacteria that can lead to early Alzheimer’s disease. If you are unsure of how to properly floss or which type to pick, speak with your dental hygienist. They will properly walk you through each of your questions and assure that you know the proper technique before you leave.
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