Alzheimer’s Disease and Your Oral Health

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A tree depicting the effect of Alzheimer's diseaseThe National Institute of Aging reports Alzheimer’s disease as the most common form of dementia among adults over 60. This disease causes changes in the brain, affecting behavioral and reasoning skills, along with memory. And even though 5 million people in the U.S. may have Alzheimer’s disease, so far the cause has not been fully understood.

While scientists are exploring a likely link between dementia and dental health, the question still remains, is poor oral hygiene the cause of dementia or is it a consequence of losing one’s cognitive abilities?

Alzheimer’s – Oral Bacterial Link

A study done at the University of Central Lancashire School of Medicine and Dentistry in the UK found a particular bacterium, associated with periodontal (gum) disease, in brain samples of people who had Alzheimer’s disease when they were alive. Common in the oral cavity, Porphyromonas gingivalis can enter the blood stream and travel to the brain just by normal activities, such as eating and tooth brushing or during dental treatment. And according to senior researcher, Sim Sinhrao, PhD, when bacteria repeatedly enter the brain, chemicals released by the immune system can destroy nerve cells, possibly leading to confusion and memory loss.

It’s also feasible that existing dementia could worsen when the brain is exposed to these bacteria. Although, more research is needed to conclusively prove the association between oral bacteria and Alzheimer’s disease, Singhrao suggests that regular dental visits could be vital for brain health.

Alzheimer’s – Oral Hygiene Challenge

As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, daily home care becomes more challenging. In fact, it’s not unusual for someone with Alzheimer’s to have completely forgotten why or how to brush their teeth, what they should do with toothpaste or how to rinse. This is why patients with dementia have a higher rate of decay and gum disease than healthy individuals, and unfortunately at a time when they are least able to tolerate dental disease. It’s also easy to understand why poor oral hygiene could be an outcome of the disease.

Dental Discount Plans

Older adults often avoid scheduling dental cleanings and checkups, even though they may have health issues, putting them at risk for dental disease. This may be due to lack of dental insurance, now that they are retired, or because of financial limitations when living on a fixed income.

A dental discount plan can be the solution that allows all senior citizens access to the dental care they need, while saving them money when they may need it the most. Monthly premiums are inexpensive, and unlike traditional dental insurance, discount plans have no deductibles, waiting periods or yearly maximums. Dental treatment is discounted from 5% to 50% when provided by a participating dentist. And you can be assured that all network dentists are credentialed and qualified to treat the unique dental challenges facing the elderly today.

Whether you’re a caregiver to someone with Alzheimer’s disease, who is in need of affordable dental care, or you’re looking to save money on your own treatment, click this link to find a Confident® dental discount plan through Careington® and a list of participating dentists located in your vicinity.

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