Most of us know that brushing, flossing, and seeing our dentist in Sewell is important for avoiding cavities. But new findings suggest that enjoying good oral health is even more important than we originally thought. Recent research indicates that the same germs that cause gum disease may also be the cause of Alzheimer’s, a devastating brain condition that afflicts almost six million Americans.
Groundbreaking Discovery Makes Scientists Rethink Everything
Science has been searching for a way to cure Alzheimer’s disease since the condition was first diagnosed more than 100 years ago. Up until now, most researchers believed that the key to treating the illness lay in preventing the formation of amyloid plaque, a substance that builds up in the brains of dementia patients.
Recent work cast doubt on this conclusion, however. A growing number of researchers now believe that the bacteria which causes gum disease, p. gingivalis, may spread from the mouth into the brain, where it causes Alzheimer’s. In fact, studies show that more than 90% of Alzheimer’s patients have traces of p. gingivalis in their brain tissues.
If this line of reasoning proves true, then the plaques which characterize the illness may not be its cause but rather the brain’s attempt to defend itself against infection. This could force scientists to rethink their entire approach to treating Alzheimer’s disease. In the meantime, here are some things all of us can do to enjoy better health:
- Brush 2-3 times a day. It’s important to brush for a full two minutes, taking time to clean all sides of each tooth.
- Flossing at least once per day. This is essential because no toothbrush can remove the plaque and tartar between our teeth.
- Using mouthwash or dental rinse. Think of this as the “finishing move” in your tooth care regimen.
- Limiting sugar consumption. Sugar is the preferred fuel source of the harmful bacteria that cause tooth decay and gum disease. We give their tanks a free fill up every time we eat a sugary snack or dessert.
- Avoiding tobacco and vaping devices. The evidence that tobacco and nicotine are harmful to our teeth and gums is overwhelming. There is no better time than now to kick the habit. Ask your dentist about new medications that can help you to manage the withdrawal symptoms.
- Avoiding alcohol altogether or drinking it only in moderation. While an occasional drink might be okay, excessive consumption carries serious risks for oral health, not to mention the rest of the body.
- Eating a nutritious diet. Our teeth and bones need plenty of lean protein, calcium, vitamins, and minerals in order to stay healthy.
- Seeing your dentist in Sewell every six months for a cleaning and exam. Scheduling your annual appointments now will cross an important item off your to-do list.
Each of us only gets one set of teeth and gums. We should do everything we can to safeguard them. That’s the kind of smart preventative care that offers big payoffs, both now and for all the years to come.
About the Author
Dr. Khanh Thai has been practicing dentistry for almost 30 years. He’s known for combining professional expertise with a caring approach to dentistry that makes him a hit among patients. You can reach his office online or by calling (856) 245-5898.