Good oral care isn’t only about preventing tooth decay and bad breath; it may also be effective in preventing Alzheimer’s disease later in life. According to a 2019 study by the Broegelmanns Research Laboratory, researchers found gingivitis causing bacteria in the brains of people who suffered from Alzheimer’s, marking a connection between the periodontal disease and this neural disease. Good dental hygiene is as important for healthy teeth and gums as for a healthy brain. To help understand the correlation, we’re taking a deeper look at the link between Alzheimer’s and oral health.
To help keep your mouth healthy, our Gainesville dentist provides preventive dental services for the whole family. Contact us today to schedule a dental consultation!
How Oral Hygiene Is Connected To Alzheimer’s
If bacteria are allowed to build up in the mouth from a lack of brushing and flossing, it can turn into gingivitis. The early stages of gingivitis can present as tender, red, and inflamed gums prone to bleeding. When addressed early, gingivitis is reversible, but if there is no intervention, gingivitis can lead to periodontal disease and potentially tooth loss. But, gingivitis-causing bacteria doesn’t just stay in your mouth. Because of its close location to the brain, the bacteria can migrate to your brain, where it will produce a protein that destroys nerve cells, leading to memory loss and, eventually, Alzheimer’s disease.
While there are still a lot of unknowns about Alzheimer’s disease, gingivitis isn’t the only contributing factor in its development. Proper oral health care can be one of many tools in your arsenal to protect yourself from this debilitating neural disease.
Proper Oral Care
The good news is preventative oral care is completely within your control and doesn’t take much besides a little time investment. While it’s not a guarantee you won’t develop Alzheimer’s disease later in life, proper oral hygiene can be an effective preventative measure and prevent other issues such as tooth decay and loss, gum recession, and oral cancer.
Before brushing your teeth, you should floss at least once a day. Flossing first can loosen food particles, allowing them to be brushed away. When flossing, insert the floss around the tooth up to the gum line but not touching the gum. Create a C-shape with the floss around the tooth to get the front and back of the tooth.
Optimally, you should aim to brush after every meal or snack for about two minutes. If you have consumed something acidic, such as coffee or tomato sauce, wait at least 30 minutes before brushing, as acids can weaken tooth enamel, and brushing immediately after can cause damage. In addition to brushing your teeth, you should also gently brush your gum, tongue, and the inside of your checks, which will help keep bacteria in check throughout your entire mouth.
Fluoride mouthwash can help protect your teeth and is a reasonable alternative if you can’t brush your teeth after every meal. Swish the mouthwash around in your mouth for 30–60 seconds, trying to evenly distribute the liquid around. Fluoride should not be consumed, so it’s essential to spit the mouthwash out, not swallow it.
Many people don’t realize diet can affect your oral health as much as it affects your physical health. Limit acidic beverages and food as well as hard food items such as chips and candies. Additionally, try to eat foods with high water content, such as celery, cucumber, milk, cantaloupe, soups, and drink plenty of water. This will help naturally remove food particles and prevent dry mouth, which can increase the multiplication of harmful bacteria.
Professional dental cleanings and check-ups are also important. Even if you have dentures, dental check-ups are important so your dentist can provide feedback about your oral care routine. Aim to schedule a dental cleaning every six to twelve months!