Alzheimer’s is a form of dementia, which harms your memory, ability to think, and can cause changes in your personality. It’s very common and usually affects people aged 60 and over. And, Alzheimer’s might be significantly more likely to happen if your mouth and gums aren’t healthy.
Gum disease is a case of inflammation in your mouth. Inflammation is a natural and appropriate response in your body to fight invaders and infection. Gum disease and oral inflammation can be a minor problem or become very serious. But chronic inflammation causes a variety of health concerns that can affect everything from your oral health to your brain. Unfortunately, inflammation problems are increasingly common in the US.
The study at NYU found that gum inflammation might actually contribute to brain inflammation, which leads to neurodegeneration (the breakdown and decline in the health of brain cells and neurons) and Alzheimer’s. This was the case both for people in good health and people with existing cognitive impairment. Sometimes studies only show that two conditions are correlated, but the researchers at NYU believe gum disease is actually one of the causes of Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimer’s & Gum Disease
In the NYU study, people with Alzheimer’s had significantly more antibodies and inflammatory molecules in their blood if they had gum disease.
In addition, the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease reported that a certain kind of oral bacteria could travel through your bloodstream and cause harm in other parts of your body, including the brain. Some oral bacteria are good and necessary. But keeping your mouth clean and healthy is the foundation for oral health and to prevent gum disease.
Signs of gum disease include:
gums pulling away from teeth
persistent bad breath and a bad taste in the mouth
If this is what inflamed gums look like, can you imagine if a brain was inflamed?
If you could maintain a few simple habits that supported your oral wellness and brain health, why wouldn’t you? The benefits of daily oral hygiene are both immediate and long-term. You can make it a “mental habit.”
The most important and basic routines for oral wellness and overall health are:
brushing teeth for two whole minutes, twice per day
flossing or cleaning between teeth once per day
regularly visiting your dentist
eating a balanced diet low in acid, sugar, and avoiding snacks
The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.
About Judy Marcovici, DMD
Dr. Judy is patient-focused with a gentle touch and an easygoing chairside manner—people first, teeth second. Patient comfort is her priority, and relaxation of anxious patients is a challenge she welcomes. In her free time, she loves spending time with her family, enjoying the outdoors, and traveling. She speaks both English and Hebrew.