With continuing research, the links between Alzheimer’s and dental health continue to grow. An article from SeniorSure.com entitled “The Connection: Alzheimer’s & Oral Health” discusses the results of a study out of the UK that “builds on previous research that people who don’t take care of their teeth, or who have gum disease, may be more likely to develop dementia. The new research, however, specifically suggests a possible link between oral health and Alzheimer’s disease.” The results of this study have great impact for dementia care because caregivers face challenges when they try to assist dementia sufferers with oral health.

Study specifics

This study was conducted by the University of Central Lancashire School of Medicine and Dentistry and involved the examination of brain samples from 20 individuals, half of which had dementia and half who didn’t have dementia. In the half with dementia, the researchers discovered a bacterium often associated with chronic gum/periodontal disease. The link between dementia and other types of bacteria and viruses had already been indicated by previous studies, but this study shows a possible connection between gum disease and those susceptible to developing Alzheimer’s disease if exposed to the appropriate trigger.

Bacterial invasion

The bacterium associated with gum disease enters the bloodstream via invasive dental treatments, brushing teeth, eating and chewing, according to the study. When the bacteria reach the brain this can lead to immune system responses that cause brain cells to release chemicals that kill neurons. This process can lead to the memory and confusion deterioration found in Alzheimer’s disease. While more research is needed to explore the link between dental health and Alzheimer’s disease, it’s quite possible that poor dental hygiene may lead to dementia in otherwise healthy individuals and that the invading bacteria may complicate Alzheimer’s in those already suffering from the disease.

Effect on caregivers

Dementia sufferers don’t always cooperate with dental care attempts and the hands-on nature of it can lead to deliberate or accidental biting. This makes maintaining oral hygiene for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients difficult and can lead to issues including gum disease.

Read the full article here to learn more about the possible connection between dementia and gum disease.

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