November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. It is a time to wear purple to support the nearly 5.4 million Americans who live with Alzheimer’s disease as well as to support their caregivers. Designated by President Reagan in 1983, National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month was designed to bring visibility to a disease that is impacting more and more people – you probably know one. Surpisingly, there’s a connection between Alzheimer’s disease and dental health.
What is considered normal as we age?
There is a misconception that memory loss, dementia and even Alzheimer’s is a part of aging. The truth is healthy, normal, expected aging includes:
- Changes in skin, hair and nails. Skin’s elasticity decreases and dryness increases as oil glands produce less oil as we age. Nail growth slows and hair thins and grays.
- Changes in hearing and vision. Visual sharpness begins to decline and high-frequency sounds become harder to hear.
- Changes to bones. Some people will notice height decreasing as changes in posture and joint compression make adjustments. Mineral content loss in bones makes them less strong.
- Changes to energy levels. As one ages, metabolisms slow and changes in circadian rhythm occur causing us to sleep less.
- Changes in organs and internal systems. Blood flow decreases, effecting the brain’s memory, heart, lungs, kidneys, and hormones.
So, while minor memory loss is normal, dementia and Alzheimer’s are not part of normal, healthy aging.
What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia a disease which attacks the brain, diminishing mental ability with enough significance to effect daily functioning. Symptoms progressively increase with aging over several years and people with Alzheimer’s – live an average of eight years after onset, longer if they are in good health.
The Connection Between Alzheimer’s Disease and Dental Health
Strange as it might seem, there is a connection between Alzheimer’s disease and dental health! “People with chronic gum inflammation for 10 or more years were 70 percent more likely than people without periodontitis to develop Alzheimer’s disease.” Reuters Health
Periodontal disease, also called gum disease, is the significant presence of swollen pockets in your gums. Gingivitis is the precursor to periodontal disease and is characterized by red, swollen gums that bleed easily when touched. These pockets are bacteria-filled and create the low-grade inflammation that seems to connect periodontitis with Alzheimer’s disease and dental health.
Periodontitis can be prevented, however, with good, daily oral care habits such as brushing, flossing, rinsing, and sugar-free gum chewing, as well as seeing your dentist twice a year. Even if you have been diagnosed with periodontal disease, there are many ways to halt the progression of the disease before it’s too late. For More Information about Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, visit their website here. Take charge of your health today by requesting an appointment with one – a PERFECT TEETH Dentist today. Together we can fight periodontal disease and potentially reduce the number of people who develop Alzheimer’s disease.