Although it may not have the name recognition that cavities do, gum disease is an equally serious dental condition affecting many Americans. In fact, gum disease is the number one cause of tooth loss in adults. A growing body of research shows that gum disease may increase your risk for other serious health conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease. Today, we want to talk about gum disease, warning signs to look for, and the potential link between gum disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
Throughout the day, bacterial plaque builds up along the teeth and gumline to form a sticky substance called plaque, which can harden into tartar if not removed through daily oral hygiene. These substances irritate gums, cause them to recede, and can lead to infection. Gum disease occurs in two stages: gingivitis and periodontitis. While gingivitis involves gums that are inflamed and tender, infection and the formation of pockets around the teeth indicate more advanced gum disease called periodontitis. Although treatment is available for periodontitis, it’s best for your oral health and your wallet if our team can diagnose and treat your gingivitis before it progresses!
Gum disease is often the result of poor oral hygiene. Early warning signs include swollen gums that are tender and abnormally red. Inflamed gums bleed easily and begin receding, making your teeth appear longer. Gum recession can also make your teeth more sensitive to hot and cold. If you notice any unusual changes in your gum health, let us know. The earlier we can address gum disease, the better.
Recent research suggests there may be a link between gum disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Scientists believe that bacteria from gum disease may enter the bloodstream through eating or toothbrushing and then travel to the brain. Once in the brain, this bacteria may cause an immune response that leads to changes in the brain consistent with Alzheimer’s disease. More research is needed to collaborate researchers’ initial findings, but it’s another motivator to keep your teeth and gums healthy and strong.
Here’s some good news: gum disease is often preventable. Be sure to brush your teeth twice daily for two minutes each time, floss your teeth every day, and visit one of our dental offices regularly for cleanings and exams. To ask us any questions about how to prevent or treat gum disease, or to schedule your next checkup, contact us today.