For thousands of Canadians, Alzheimer’s disease is a condition that affects their day-to-day life. Whether they are affected by the disease themselves or by the health of a close friend or relative, this health condition can be both financially and emotionally taxing. According to the Alzheimer Society of Canada, 1.4 million Canadians will live with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia in 2031 at this rate. This won’t just affect the health of patients, but it can have an affect on us all due to the medical costs and indirect costs (such as lost earnings.)
We’ve touched on the importance of oral health for overall health in our past blogs. Studies have shown that oral health can be linked with several systemic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. With this in mind, it’s no surprise that the state of your oral health can also have an impact on the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease. To explain more on this subject, dental implant provider, Dr. K. Ashraf gives his readers here in Waterloo, ON an in-depth look at the connection between periodontal health and Alzheimer’s disease.
In 2011, it’s estimated that 747,000 Canadians were living with Alzheimer’s disease and that number has most likely increased. Chances are, you probably know someone that is affected by this disease. So, what exactly is Alzheimer’s disease? This particular condition is the most common type of dementia and it is a progressive disease affecting mental functions. Alzheimer’s disease works in stages and begins with seemingly harmless symptoms like being forgetful. It then can eventually make an individual unable to communicate or react to their surroundings. The stages of Alzheimer’s disease go as follows:
Early Stage: The first stages of Alzheimer’s often still allow for an individual to function independently. Some of the symptoms include memory lapses where they forget familiar words, locations or everyday objects. Patients may also experience problems with planning or organizing.
Moderate Stage: The middle-stage will often last the longest and can often go on for years. During this time, patients will progressively require more and more care as their symptoms continue to worsen. Patients will also begin to struggle with expressing their thoughts and performing routine tasks. Friends and family members may also begin to notice a change in personality or behavioral changes.
Severe Stage: During the late-stage of Alzheimer’s disease, patients will struggle to respond to their environment and eventually, lose their ability to control their own movement. Patients will also require around-the-clock care to assist with personal care and daily activities. By this time, patients will also become vulnerable to infections, which can often lead to their death.
While there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, there are medications that can help with symptoms. For the best outcome, it’s best to identify symptoms as soon as possible to start treatment. Some of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease include:
Now that we know more about Alzheimer’s disease, we’re sure that you’re wondering how oral health relates to this health condition. A study from the University of Central Lancashire in the UK recently looked at this connection and found that gum disease may be a risk factor to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers looked at 10 brain samples from patients with dementia and compared them to 10 brain samples from individuals who did not have the disease. Through their research, the study found that the bacterium, Porphyromonas gingivalis, was present in the samples of patients who had dementia. This bacterium is typically associated with chronic gum disease. Researchers believe that bacteria enters the bloodstream through chewing, eating, and brushing teeth. It’s also possible for bacteria to enter the bloodstream after invasive dental treatment. Researchers also believe that this bacteria could possibly trigger an immune system response, which will cause the release of chemicals that can kill neurons and lead to the progressive loss of brain function.
Other studies, such as the 2010 New York University study, also found that gum inflammation can increase the likelihood of cognitive dysfunction.
Need another reason to take care of your smile? Oral health is just another contributing factor that can lead to other overall health conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease. If you’re currently dealing with severe oral health problems such as tooth loss, we recommend looking into restorative treatment as soon as possible. In fact, we’ve been able to restore the smiles of countless patients with the help of dental implants. To get started on your implant treatment, contact our office today to schedule your no-obligation consultation with Dr. Ashraf.