Practicing good, consistent oral hygiene requires being on top of your schedule. In the case of someone with Alzheimer’s, forgetfulness is the main challenge of the disease. This isn’t just your common “now where did I put my car keys?” situation. Alzheimer’s patients can forget what day it is, what month it is, what year it is, and even get to a point where recognizing loved ones is a challenge. It’s no wonder, then, that remembering to brush and floss their teeth might fall by the wayside. Park Ridge dentists, Dr. Maria and Dr. Thanasi Loukas, connect the condition of Alzheimer’s disease patients with a prevalence of gum disease and tooth loss.
Alzheimer’s Linked to Gum Disease at NYU
Alzheimer’s is a serious plight, with around 13% of Americans over the age of 65 suffering from the disease. Research is consistently under way to try and halt, or at least improve the condition. Women tend to be afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease at higher rates than men, though there is speculation that this has to do with the longer average life span of women. Among the many Alzheimer’s studies, New York University College of Dentistry conducted research utilizing two decades of data to determine a potential link between gum disease and Alzheimer’s.
Dangers of Gum Disease in the Elderly
Patients over the age of 70 were examined in the research study at NYU. Approximately half of the 152 patients presented with periodontal disease and diminished cognitive abilities. Scientists discovered that patients with decreased mental function had a higher rate of periodontal disease (gum disease). Since gum disease is the leading cause of adult tooth loss, this study is particularly important. Alzheimer’s patients who succumb to periodontitis (severe gum disease) and begin losing their teeth are liable to spiral into other potentially serious dental issues such as abscesses (severe infections in the pulp of teeth) periodontal pockets (another source for infection that could spread to other parts of the body) and facial collapse from jawbone deterioration.