Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia in adults over 65 years of age. This progressive brain disorder can cause memory loss and deteriorated thinking and language skills. Changes in behavior are also common. It’s one of the top 10 leading causes of death in the U.S., and Alzheimer’s research studies are discovering new insights every year.
In 2019, a study was published in Science Advances by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. It suggests a potential link between Alzheimer’s and periodontal bacteria, or the strain of bacteria that causes gum disease.
The researchers working on the study confirmed that these bacteria can travel from the mouth to the brain. Once there, the bacteria produce toxins that destroy neurons in the brain. Those toxins were found in the:
- brain tissue,
- spinal fluid,
- and saliva of those with symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
This study brings us closer to understanding the role periodontal bacteria may play in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
These findings add supporting evidence to the link between gum disease and Alzheimer’s disease. But, we need more research to understand the progression, or how it got that bacteria there. Delta Dental will continue to evaluate what the link between Alzheimer’s disease and periodontal bacteria means.
What to Take Away from Alzheimer’s Research Studies Today
The connection between our oral health and overall health continues to be proven. Having a healthy mouth undeniably impacts your overall health, which can become worse as we age. Keeping the mouth healthy and managing gum disease is important to our oral and overall health throughout our lives. But, older adults can be more susceptible to infection if they have dry mouth, are a smoker, or take certain medications.
Focus on your oral health, as it strongly impacts your wellness. Older adults are at a higher risk because other factors can work against them causing their dental health to become less of a priority:
• Many older adults don’t get a new dental insurance plan after they retire. They are then no longer eligible for employer-sponsored dental benefits.
• Complete dental care isn’t covered under Medicare, and dental coverage is limited.
• Dry mouth, tooth decay or tooth loss, and tooth sensitivity can contribute to poor nutrition.
• A lack of transportation may make regular dental visits difficult.
Contact us today to discuss what coverage options are right for you.