For decades, medical researchers have been trying to learn about Alzheimer’s disease in the hopes of one day finding a cure. Though there is still much more research that needs to be done to achieve this goal, interesting developments have come to light regarding the link between Alzheimer’s and dental health. While this may sound strange to you, there are many connections between the two. If your curiosity is peaked and you are ready to learn more, here’s what you need to know.
Also commonly known as gum inflammation, periodontal disease will cause a person’s gums to become red, tender, and ultimately inflamed. While only considered to be a chronic, low-grade inflammatory condition, it nevertheless appears that having this problem early in one’s life can lead to serious consequences later on. In studies that have followed 20,000 people, researchers have found the chronic inflammation creates enough stress on the body over time that the brain is made more susceptible to protein buildups, which is a common cause of Alzheimer’s.
For those who suffer from gingivitis, also known as gum disease, the bad news is that the bacteria associated with this condition has also been linked to Alzheimer’s and dental health. When gum disease is present, it results in the formation of deep pockets inside the gums, which in turn allows plaque and bacteria to accumulate and multiply at a rapid pace. As a result, the bacteria can enter a person’s bloodstream while eating, brushing, flossing, or when having an invasive dental procedure performed. With time, the blood-brain barrier becomes easier to penetrate as a person ages, which can lead to bacteria entering the brain and destroying nerve tissue.
Oral Herpes Virus
Along with gingivitis and periodontal disease being linked to Alzheimer’s disease, so too is the oral herpes virus HPV-1. While over 70% of adults ages 50 and over have the HPV-1 virus, it usually stays latent until activated by stress or illness. However, once it is activated, it can reduce a person’s ability to fight off infections. As a result, they are at greater risk of periodontal infections that could, over time, create prime conditions for Alzheimer’s disease.
In addition to HPV-1 being linked to Alzheimer’s, the oral herpes virus HSV-1 is also connected to the devastating disease. Unfortunately, researchers have found the virus can cause protein deposits in the brain consistent with those found in Alzheimer’s patients. One study involving the brains of Alzheimer’s patients found they had twice the amount of both viruses as non-Alzheimer’s individuals, and the brains also contained the tangles and plaques commonly found in and around neurons of Alzheimer’s brains.
If it’s time for a checkup or you are experiencing other dental issues, schedule an appointment with us here at North View Dental. Featuring a comfortable and professional office, friendly and knowledgeable staff, and the latest in dental innovation, you can count on us. To schedule your appointment, call us at 801-782-6681.