Alzheimer’s – Is Gum Health Associated With This Disease?
Looking after our gums well could help to prevent this degenerative problem.
At Blue Sky Dental, we have long emphasised the importance of good overall oral health care for our Chelmsford patients.
Traditionally, this has been because gum disease is not only unpleasant in itself, but is also known to lead to tooth loss if not treated. More recently, gingival problems such as periodontitis have been linked with a whole host of other health issues, including heart disease, strokes, diabetes, and now, increasingly, with diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
If you have a friend or relative who has Alzheimer’s, you will be all too aware of how awful it can be, both for the sufferer and those around them. Although there is still a long way to go with the research into the possible link between gum disease and Alzheimer’s, it now appears to have reached a stage where a clinical trial on humans is set to take place.
What has been found?
Anyone wishing to read highly detailed information about this latest research can do so on the Science Advances website (1). For most people though, this will be too detailed and we will attempt to sum up the findings here. Samples were taken of brain tissue, spinal fluid and saliva of Alzheimer sufferers, both dead and alive. In these, scientists found bacteria that is present and linked with gum disease. Further tests, on mice, showed that these bacteria could be transferred from the mouth, to the brain. Drugs were then developed which were found to stop the degeneration of the brain tissues in the mice.
Of course, we are not mice, and this does not conclusively prove a link between gum disease and Alzheimer’s; but it is a potentially positive development in the fight against this horrible disease. The next step is to develop a new drug that is suitable for humans and, it is hoped, clinical tests will be carried out on humans with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease later this year. This is the latest in a series of investigations that have shown possible links. The hope is that we are now getting closer to being able to halt the progress of this disease, if not find a ‘cure’ for it.
Your gum health
For anyone who considers their gum health to be secondary to the health of their teeth, it is time to think again. This, and other, research indicates that we may well pay the price for not looking after our gums as we become older. The truth is that it really isn’t that hard to look after your gums well. All it takes is just a few minutes, each and every day, to give them a thorough clean. In addition to this, regular professional cleans by the hygienist at Blue Sky Dental is highly advisable.
Gum health tips
It is always worth reminding our Chelmsford patients that they need to look after their gums, and of ways in which they can do this. You may find it useful to cut the following section out and pin it on your bathroom wall, for when you, and your children, brush their teeth.
Brush your gums, not just your teeth.
We tend to focus on our teeth as we know that they can decay if we don’t. Your gums can also become infected with bacteria though, and gum disease can cause soreness and bleeding, as well as leading to the loss of teeth. When you brush your teeth, angle your brush slightly towards your gums. This enables the bristles to reach just below the gum line where bacteria can collect. Always make sure that the bristles of your brush are not worn too as this will make them less effective.
Yes, we know using dental floss can be tricky, but, if you haven’t used it before, you will be surprised at what ends up on the floss after you have done this. Using floss is a cheap and easy way of keeping your gums in better health, and our hygienists will be happy to show you how to do this correctly.
Have a Scale and Polish procedure
This is a procedure carried out at our Chelmsford practice and which usually takes around 15 minutes, although your initial clean may take longer. It is a non invasive procedure that does not require an anaesthetic. Hardened bacteria (tartar) that has collected on the teeth, leaving a rough surface, will be removed. This makes it more difficult for future bacteria to collect. Not only this, but some surface staining will be removed, leaving you with nicer looking teeth and a fresher feel to your mouth. This treatment should be a regular part of your general oral health care and one which is of a huge benefit to you.
If you would like to have an overall oral health check and a professional cleaning of your teeth and gums, why not call Blue Sky Dental today for an appointment? You can do so by calling our Chelmsford dental clinic on 01245 211070. Our friendly team is on hand to take your call.