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Periodontal Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease

A huge number of medical conditions are associated with old age, periodontal disease and Alzheimer’s disease among them. But age itself is not always the reason these issues develop. Correlations have been found between periodontal disease and AD, which persist when controlling for age and sex. Although the cause is not apparent, the trend itself is clear: those with more serious gum disease are at a greater risk of also having Alzheimer’s.

The effects of Alzheimer’s on your dental health

A fairly obvious explanation is that those with AD are less capable of caring for their teeth. While this may not account for the entire correlation, it does appear to be a factor. People with dementia of any kind are likely to forget oral hygiene, or to do it poorly. Where possible, they should be assisted with tasks of this type.

The effect your dental health may have on Alzheimer’s

While it is less obvious that periodontal disease should be a factor in AD, researchers are beginning to believe that the relationship may go both ways. Several possible mechanisms have been suggested, including the following:

  • Oral bacteria reaching the brain. The bacteria responsible for periodontal disease has been known to spread to other parts of the body, particularly in patients with severe periodontal disease. It is possible that these pathogens might damage the brain, leading to the mental deterioration associated with AD.
  • Increased inflammation. While swelling is a very effective part of the body’s defenses, it can backfire and cause damage to the body. Either the inflammatory agents involved in periodontal disease may affect the brain, or perhaps extended periodontal disease may cause a chronic inflammatory condition that causes swelling in the brain itself.
  • Increased risk of stroke. Stroke itself is not an identified risk factor for AD, but it does have some correlation to the severity of AD symptoms.
  • Weight loss/wasting. Long-term periodontal disease can lead to a significant decrease in body weight, which may have an adverse effect on the brain.

Research to be done

While the correlation between AD and periodontal disease is well established, the cause remains unknown. Research into this problem is currently under way, as well as into Alzheimer’s in general. In the meantime, many other adverse health effects have been associated with periodontal disease. If you are suffering from gum disease, we strongly recommend seeking treatment from your periodontist in Phoenix, the Arizona Periodontal Group.

Periodontal Disease and Rheumatoid Arthritis

Periodontal disease can impact your oral health, but it can also impact your overall health in a much more significant way. There has been recent research that suggests that periodontal disease can predict the severity and presence of rheumatoid arthritis in a patient. The conclusion of multiple studies so far seem to suggest that the more risk there is for tooth loss, the higher risk there seems to be for rheumatoid arthritis. One of these studies, for example, observed that patients who had moderate to severe periodontal disease were over twice the risk for rheumatoid arthritis in comparison to the patients who had mild to no periodontal disease.

While the cause and effect of the situation hasn’t been proven yet, there are strong indicators that would suggest there is a mouth-to-joint connection here. Researchers that lave looked into the connection between rheumatoid arthritis and periodontal disease has found that there are similarities between the inflammatory processes of oral tissue and joints. There also may be a genetic link between the two conditions as a genetic type has been identified to be more common in patients who possess both conditions when compared to patients who do not suffer either condition.

Available Treatment Options

  • Take care of your teeth: First and foremost, basic oral health care must be exercised by the patient. This includes proper teeth brushing, mouth rinsing, and flossing at home while also receiving regular dental cleanings and checkups.
  • Seek treatment for periodontal disease: Any outstanding oral health issues like periodontal disease need to be treated in order to nip the issue as soon as possible. Nonsurgical treatment is always preferred; this option would involve removing built up plaque and tartar. In more severe cases, advanced treatments like gum grafts, pocket reduction surgery, and regenerative procedures are ideal.
  • Work with a doctor: A periodontist can help you treat periodontal disease, but if you are suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, we suggest working close with your doctor to receive proper treatment. This plays an important role in maintain your oral and overall health.

If you’re looking for a Phoenix periodontist to help you with treatment options, look no further than the Arizona Periodontal Group. You can reach out to us with any questions you may have concerning periodontal disease and its link to rheumatoid arthritis along with possible treatment options. Request an appointment at your earliest convenience to begin the treatment process.

Periodontal Disease and Cardiovascular Disease

iStock_000013228439_LargeThe most apparent link between periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease is inflammation, or swelling. Periodontal disease is the inflammation and bacterial infection of the gums and teeth, which left untreated may cause tooth loss, infection and cardiovascular disease. Recent studies have found that people with periodontal disease are twice as likely to develop and suffer from atherosclerosis, hardened arteries from inflammation, which is the typical cause of strokes and heart attacks. Atherosclerosis makes it difficult for blood to flow to the heart.

How Gum Disease Affects Periodontal Disease and Cardiovascular Disease

Inflammation is a symptom of gum disease, which is most noticeable by swollen and tender gums. Inflammation leads to increased plaque and affects your cardiovascular system. Periodontitis, a type of gum disease, is infected pockets in the gums. The bacterium from the infected pockets is able to spread below the gum line, into the bloodstream, and to the heart. When the bacteria enter the bloodstream it can attach to the plaque residing in the heart vessels causing infection. Another type of gum disease is gingivitis, a common condition, with sore, swollen gums that bleed easily, if left untreated it can progress into periodontitis.

How Periodontal and Cardiovascular Disease Affect Each Other

The typical person that is affected by the link between periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease are:

  • They have the highest concentration of C-reactive protein (CRP) in the blood stream. CRP is produced in the liver and its levels get higher in response to inflammation.
  • Patient population with heart murmurs. Heart murmurs are sometimes linked to overworked heart valves. Atherosclerosis can cause heart valves to be overworked.
  • Have artificial prosthetics most commonly hip joints. People in need of a knee or hip joint replacement had the DNA of the bacteria in that joint tested. The DNA was found to match the DNA in their plaque. This shows a clear correlation between people in need of a joint replacement and gum disease.
  • People with acute cerebralvascular ischemia. Acute cerebralvascular ischemia is a condition that the metabolic demand is greater than the blood flow. The lack of oxygen causes brain tissue to die.

The best course of action is to take your oral hygiene seriously by brushing and flossing daily, using mouthwash and visiting us at the Arizona Periodontal Group every six months for a deep clean and check-up. Make an appointment with our office and have your gums checked for the symptoms of periodontal disease. By taking healthy steps and good oral hygiene you will protect your mouth and your heart.

Periodontal Disease and Genetics

iStock_000015985407_LargeA 2012 study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that one out of every two Americans over the age of thirty suffers from gum disease. The study also showed that a staggering 70.1% of adults over the age of 65 suffer from periodontal disease, putting millions of Americans at a higher risk of tooth loss and serious systemic disease, such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and osteoporosis.

Recent research has found that there is a definitive link between periodontal disease and genetics, which might help individuals to understand and reduce their risk. In fact, studies have shown that kids who have parents with periodontal disease are as much as 12 times more likely to test positive for the bacteria thought to be responsible for periodontal disease. Furthermore, researchers have found that up to 30% of the population falls into the category of being genetically susceptible, which is why everyone should take the time to understand the link between genetics and periodontal disease.

Anatomical Similarities

Research has shown that things like abnormal tooth structures, malocclusion (crooked teeth), and wisdom teeth that don’t erupt correctly can put a person at a higher risk for periodontal disease. Unfortunately, since you can inherit all of these traits from your parents, these risk factors need to be addressed by dental professionals, such as the Arizona Periodontal Group. Your periodontist can remove impacted molars, suggest ways to correct the alignment of your teeth, and even reshape your dental structures to keep food particles and bacteria from collecting on your teeth.

IL-1 Genotype Carrier

Research has also shown that carriers of the IL-1 Genotype are as much as 20 times more likely to develop advanced periodontal disease than people who don’t have this genetic trait. The IL-1 Genotype is a cytokine involved in the inflammatory response. Patients with this genotype are more prone to have inflammatory reactions than people without the trait, which can also increase their chances of other systemic illnesses, such as heart disease. Fortunately, new tests can check for this genetic marker to help patients understand their level of personal risk.

Home Environment

Parents can pass on more periodontal risk factors than just the IL-1 Genotype. Since family members tend to visit the same dentist, enjoy meals together, and pick up one another’s bad habits, your home environment can also put you at a higher risk for periodontitis.

For example, research has shown that eating foods that are higher in sugar and certain acids can prompt bacterial growth and gum disease. This means that if you grew up eating a diet that is high in sugar, you might be more prone to periodontal disease. Also, since adults who had parents who drank and smoked when they were younger are also more likely to drink and smoke themselves, these lifestyle choices can translate into gum disease, which can morph into periodontal disease. Research has also shown that poorly contoured dental restorations, such as fillings and crowns, can trap food particles that can act as a breeding ground for bacteria and cause periodontal disease. This means that if you go to the same family practice that your parents went to for years, and you haven’t been receiving top-level care, you could be at a higher risk for periodontal disease.

For more information about your personal risk factor for periodontal disease, make an appointment with Dr. Trujillo at the Arizona Periodontal Group.

Periodontal Disease and Osteoporosis

While no one is entirely safe from gum disease, some risk factors can speed the development of periodontal infections and lead to more serious damage sooner. Osteoporosis is one such factor. At the Arizona Periodontal Group, we want to encourage you to take proactive steps to prevent periodontal disease—especially if you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis or a low bone mineral density.

Losing bone

In the late stages of periodontal disease, teeth are lost due to the deterioration of gum tissue and alveolar bone cause by the infection. Osteoporosis causes a more generalized bone loss, diagnosed by measuring bone mineral density (BMD). Because both diseases involve the loss of bone, it seems obvious that there might be a risk of worse damage when the two are combined. This hypothesis has been borne out in multiple studies. Osteoporosis has been found to increase the loss of alveolar bone, especially in patients who already had periodontitis.

Halting the process

To prevent possible tooth loss and other damage to the structures of the mouth, it is essential to take careful preventive measures against periodontal disease. Regular brushing, flossing, exams, and preventive treatments such as cleanings are important for everyone, but especially for those with osteoporosis. Your fight against periodontal disease begins long before the first detectable signs appear.

For your general health as well as possible dental benefits, you should also seek treatment for your osteoporosis if you haven’t already. Currently available medications can slow or halt the deterioration of bone mass and reduce the danger of fractures.

The periodontitis-osteoporosis link

New research indicates that periodontal disease and osteoporosis may be even more closely linked than previously thought. The condition of bones in the mouth appears to be a good predictor for bone quality elsewhere in the body. This may one day provide a method of early diagnosis for osteoporosis that could allow for more preemptive treatment.

Ultimately, Dr. Trujillo’s advice to patients with osteoporosis is to care for your teeth the same way you would otherwise. Be especially cautious in checking for and treating periodontal disease, as it may have a more severe effect than it would in other patients. For help monitoring your oral health and treating gum disease early in its development, make an appointment with our office

Start your day with a beautiful smile.

When you visit our office, your oral health is our top priority. Dr. Trujillo and his entire team is dedicated to providing you with the personalized, gentle care that you deserve.