Globally, elderly populations are increasing, and with this comes a greater awareness of the issues that plague our senior citizens. One of the diseases that has the most profound effect on the elderly is Alzheimer’s, which is caused by brain cell death and is progressive, meaning it gets worse over time. It starts with short term memory loss and can rapidly progress to advance stages, where, amongst other effects, can cause the person to no longer remembers their own family and loved ones. Eventually people afflicted with this disease will be unable to perform the most mundane of tasks for themselves.
Alzheimer’s is the biggest source of dementia in the older demographic in the United States, and, non-coincidentally, periodontal disease is also prevalent in the senior population. Studies have shown that there may be a direct correlation between the two.
Science daily commented on a joint study on this very subject conducted by the University of Southampton and King’s College London:
“The presence of gum disease at baseline was associated with a six-fold increase in the rate of cognitive decline in participants over the six-month follow-up period of the study. Periodontitis at baseline was also associated with a relative increase in the pro-inflammatory state over the six-month follow-up period. The authors conclude that gum disease is associated with an increase in cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s Disease, possibly via mechanisms linked to the body’s inflammatory response.”
The initial stages of periodontal disease are characterized by sore, inflamed and bleeding gums, which progresses to severe infections, bone loss and the eventual loss of teeth. Studies are now showing links to a number of other health problems, including lung and heart conditions. Gum disease should be taken seriously, and addressed when symptoms first present to prevent the progression of the disease.
Often the real tragedy is that as an elderly person begins suffering from Alzheimer’s, they are less able to care for themselves, often allowing the gum disease to thrive unchecked.
Prevention is the key here. Our elderly loved ones should be encouraged to have regular dental checkups and practice daily dental hygiene behaviors at home. In fact, everyone, regardless of age, should adhere to the same guidelines. Gum disease can have a negative impact on anyone’s life and it is one of easiest things to prevent.
Daily brushing and flossing along with a healthy diet go a long way in preventing gum disease from gaining a foothold. Regular cleanings and ozonizing (ask our office about home units) are key to preventing and often reversing the effects of gum disease. The bacteria contained in tartar can be toxic to our health and taking care of our teeth from the toddler through to old age can have an overall positive impact on our lives.
To make an appointment for a dental cleaning in San Diego, please call us at (619) 359-6569.