May 29, 2019
Sometimes health issues in one part of the body can lead to problems in other areas. When it comes to your oral health, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the health of your gums can have a major influence on your teeth, but did you know that it may also be linked to brain function? Learn more about this surprising link and how those regular visits to your dentist in Mesquite could be even more beneficial than you think.
What is Gum Disease?
The bacteria that can create cavities in your teeth can also infect your gums and cause gum disease, also known as gum disease. Early symptoms can include redness, bleeding, and swelling. Untreated gum disease that reaches its most severe form, periodontitis, can eventually cause you to lose your teeth; it may also result in an abscess (pocket of pus) that can spread the infection.
How Is Gum Disease Linked to My Brain?
According to the American Academy of Periodontology, studies have found a link between gum disease and dementia, a term for different types of decline in mental ability such as Alzheimer’s disease. Evidence of P. gingivalis, a key pathogen in infected gums, was found in the brain tissue of Alzheimer’s patients.
This could be a result of bacteria in your gums being allowed to enter the bloodstream. Once they’re in the circulatory system, they can travel throughout the body and cause damage. Some researchers believe that bacteria may reach the brain this way and set off an immune response that can kill brain cells.
It has yet to be determined that gum disease can be a direct cause of Alzheimer’s or other forms dementia. It is possible, however, that the bacteria could cause existing problems to become worse.
Can Protecting My Gums Protect My Health?
Dementia isn’t the only serious condition that’s been connected to gum disease. Heart disease has been found to be more likely in patients with infected gums, although similarly a causal link hasn’t been firmly established.
While there’s no evidence suggesting that healthy gums can prevent brain deterioration or heart issues, it’s certainly true that good oral health helps promote good health overall. Continue brushing and flossing twice a day, and always visit your dentist twice a year; they’ll be able to detect changes in your mouth that could lead to larger problems. Who knows? You could be protecting your mind as well as your teeth.
About the Author
Dr. George T. Philip has been helping patients in the DFW area since 2004 with a state-of-the-art approach to dentistry that aims to be respectful and satisfying. In addition to regular preventive checkups, he offers scaling and root planing in order to help treat patients with gum disease. To schedule an appointment, visit his website or call (972) 285-6144.
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