Gum disease, or periodontitis, is an infection that affects the soft tissues (gums) in your mouth; it’s a leading cause of tooth loss.
But the complications of gum disease aren’t limited to your mouth. Left untreated, gum disease can cause widespread health issues, including an increased risk of heart disease and dementia.
Below, Dr. David Blaustein at Chelsea Dental Aesthetics in New York City zeros in on the link between gum disease and dementia.
Oral health and dementia may not seem related at first, but there’s a link: bacteria. Your mouth is home to about 700 species of microbes, including bacteria. Some of these species 一 especially Porphyromonas gingivalis 一 contribute to gum disease.
With an infection, you may notice deep periodontal pockets, recessed gums, inflammation, wiggly teeth, and tender or bleeding gums.
Researchers have found Porphyromonas gingivalis bacteria in the brains of patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, a type of dementia. This finding suggests the bacteria associated with gum disease are also associated with dementia.
The best ways to reduce your risk of gum disease include:
If you do spot the early signs of gum disease, such as bleeding gums, address the issue quickly. Gingivitis, the first stage of gum disease, is the easiest to treat, which can reduce the bacteria burden in your mouth.
Oral care is just one of many factors that contribute to dementia. You can reduce your risk of developing dementia by:
All of these lifestyle modifications can have ripple effects on other aspects of your health too, such as heart health and mental well-being.
Don’t ignore the signs of gum disease. Early symptoms may only involve red or bleeding gums, but more advanced symptoms could include receding gums or shifting teeth.
Dr. Blaustein can help reduce your symptoms regardless of how far your gum disease has advanced. Potential treatments include guidance on improved brushing habits, antibiotics, medicated mouthwashes, and nonsurgical scaling and root planing.
When you’re ready to talk about periodontal maintenance with Dr. Blaustein, call our office in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, or schedule your appointment using our online tool.