Alzheimer’s Disease and Dental Health
As per a research study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, there seems to be a direct link between Alzheimer’s disease and dental health.  Thus we can say there is a certain relationship between the two.
Interesting right? Let us find out more.
People with improper oral hygiene or periodontal disease up their risks of developing the disease compared to those with good oral hygiene.
Link Between Oral Hygiene and Alzheimer’s Disease
The study conducted by researchers at the University of Central Lancashire found a bacterium P.gingivalis associated with gum disease in the brains of patients who have dementia. 
How Oral Bacteria Leads to Dementia
As per the study, the bacteria, usually found in dental caries or gum disease, may enter the bloodstream through activities as simple as chewing food or brushing teeth.
It may also enter the bloodstream following dental work.  It may enter the brain from there.
The bacteria kick-starts an immunity action whenever it enters the brain, resulting in neurons getting killed by the excess chemicals released.
This could lead to signs of Alzheimer’s, such as confusion and failing memory.
Alzheimer’s Disease and Dental Health Problems
The link between dental health and Alzheimer’s is evident in recent literature. Many studies indicate that oral infection precedes dementia.
However, having dementia raises the probability of gum disease and infections. This is because brushing, flossing, or maintaining proper oral hygiene is challenging for an Alzheimer’s patient.
Following dental problems are commonly seen in dementia patients:
- Gum disease
- Increased dental caries
- Increased accumulation of plaque
- Tooth loss from decay and gum disease
Dental Facts in Alzheimer’s Patients
Dental care for an Alzheimer’s patient becomes more challenging as the disease progresses.
People with dementia may forget trivial things like how to brush, how to rinse, or what toothpaste is.
This can prove harmful to their dental health. Therefore, effective maintenance of oral hygiene is crucial in Alzheimer’s patients.
Taking Care of Oral Health in Alzheimer’s Patients
Patients in the later stages of Alzheimer’s may be uncooperative while undergoing restorative procedures.
Therefore, dentists should take a preventative approach with regular check-ups and cleanings early on.
As a caregiver, the following dental care tips may help a patient with Alzheimer’s and their teeth:
- Rinse mouth and dentures after every meal
- Break down instructions into short, simple steps
- Helping them floss daily is a great way to protect their teeth
- Demonstrate brushing on yourself, or gently guide their hands
- A longer, soft-bristled, and angled toothbrush may be easier to handle
- Be mindful of any mouth pain or discomfort from ill-fitting dentures, decay, etc
- Help them brush their teeth twice daily; especially after taking their last meal and liquid medications
- Remove and clean dentures every night by soaking them in a cleaning solution and brushing gently with a soft brush.
Choosing the right dentist for Alzheimer’s patients is crucial. The dentist should have experience working with Alzheimer’s patients and elderly persons.
Caregivers must keep a record of all previous dental appointments and treatments received. This will help the dentist make the right treatment choices and provide dementia-friendly dentistry.
Ultimately, Alzheimer’s disease and dental health are managed by regular dental visits and early screening.
This will be critical in preventing tooth pain, caries (decay), gum problems, or infections.
Frequently Asked Questions
The bacterium P. gingivalis, associated with gum disease and poor oral hygiene, can contribute to the development of dementia after entering the brain from the oral cavity.
No, regular brushing and flossing will help prevent Alzheimer’s rather than cause it.
Yes, there is a direct link between Alzheimer’s disease and dental health.
Maintaining good oral hygiene, regular brushing, and flossing can help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.
In Alzheimer’s, patients often forget to brush their teeth or lose the manual control of their hands to brush effectively.
Poor maintenance of oral hygiene may then increase the incidence of decay and gum disease.