Does Alzheimer’s affect gum health?

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By Dr Mona Abbadi, Periodontist

It is known that as dementia or Alzheimer progresses, a person may lose the ability to clean their teeth, stop understanding that their teeth need brushing, or lose interest in doing so.

This leads to plaque accumulation, bleeding gums and eventually gum disease.

During advanced stages of Alzheimer disease, when a person may forget what to do with toothpaste or how to rinse, or may be resistant to assistance from others, care givers may need to help with this task – a dentist can provide guidance and show them how to assist in cleaning another person’s teeth.

Gum health and the brain
Alzheimer’s definitely affects gum health. But researches are still working on finding out if gum disease affects and is detrimental to brain health, thus accelerating the progress of Alzheimer’s.

A recent study on the subject suggests that the bacteria associated with periodontal disease (that cause chronic inflammation) are also associated with the development of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

Scientists have found that the species of bacteria, Porphyromonas gingivalis, can move from the mouth to the brain releasing enzymes called gingipains that can destroy nerve cells, leading to memory loss and eventually Alzheimer’s.

So periodontal diseases can influence the progress of Alzheimer’s and vice versa.

You can contact Mona Abbadi at