Fear of tooth loss is not the only reason to step up your game when it comes to proper oral care as we age. Caregivers of those with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) will be interested to know that poor oral hygiene can have an adverse effect on overall health, including contributing to degenerative diseases such as stroke, diabetes and yes, even Alzheimer’s disease. New studies show that periodontal disease, which results in chronic inflammation, may worsen symptoms of AD later in life.
It’s important to clarify that oral disease is NOT a direct cause of AD, but researchers are finding a close association between increased risk of AD and gum disease.
Inflammation is one of the top risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease; therefore good oral hygiene is vital to AD prevention in older adults and in individuals in all stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
Caregivers should ensure their loved one gets regular dental care including cleanings and exams. Any signs of periodontal disease should be addressed promptly and teeth that show signs of an active infection should be extracted.
If your loved one is not cooperative with medical procedures such as oral exams or cleaning, consult with the primary physician to find out if sedation is an option. Caregivers may also want to check out options for mobile dental care companies that offer to travel to your loved one’s home-which could provide an increased sense of security in the familiar home environment.
The American Dental Association says that loosing teeth is not necessarily a normal part of the aging process. Good oral care can maintain proper hygiene of the mouth and prevent tooth loss.
Although the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that nearly 65 percent of seniors (over age 65) have moderate to severe gum disease, tooth loss is NOT necessarily an inevitable part of aging.
Be sure to report signs of oral breakdown such as sores or redness to the physician and dentist.
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