Gum Disease and Brain Health

If we think about our oral health, we may focus on our teeth or the way our smile looks. But our gums play a huge part in the health of our mouth. In fact, your gums can influence many different parts of your overall body health. One such connection is between gum disease and your brain health. You can help protect both your oral and cognitive well-being when you take care of your gums. For more information on gum disease and how we diagnose and treat it, please visit About Gum Disease.

Gum Disease and Brain Health

What Is Gum Disease?

Gum disease is an inflammatory condition that affects the gums. It can range from mild to severe gum inflammation. Without treatment, severe gum disease can lead to tooth loss or other serious health conditions.

How Gum Disease Develops

Gum disease typically begins when plaque builds on your teeth and under the gum line. Plaque is a type of sticky bacteria that clings to your teeth. If you don’t brush and floss your teeth properly, the plaque can harden into tartar. Unfortunately, you need a professional to remove tartar from your teeth.

This can irritate the gums and lead to inflammation. Over time, the condition can worsen, causing pockets to form between the teeth and gums. Ultimately, this can lead to bone loss and shifting teeth.

How Your Oral Health Links to Brain Health

Both gum disease and certain neurological conditions share a common thread: inflammation. In gum disease, inflammation occurs in the gums and surrounding tissues. In neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s and dementia, inflammation also plays a big role. The body’s inflammatory response can affect not only the local area but also have systemic effects. Eventually, this can potentially reach the brain.

The Role of Bacteria

Research has shown that the bacteria associated with gum disease can enter the bloodstream and travel to other parts of the body, including the brain. In some cases, this may contribute to inflammation and could potentially play a role in developing or worsening cognitive conditions.

Increased Risk of Cognitive Decline

Studies have indicated that those with gum disease may be at a higher risk of cognitive decline and conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. While researchers may not exactly understand why, they believe that it is due to chronic inflammation. Additionally, the bacteria associated with gum disease can damage brain health. 

Potential Links to Other Health Issues

Furthermore, gum disease has been linked to various systemic health issues, such as diabetes and heart disease. This means that you can increase your risk of other severe issues if you have gum disease. At the same time, these chronic conditions can increase your chances of developing cognitive problems. 

Protecting Your Oral and Cognitive Health

One way to protect your brain health is to prevent gum disease. If you maintain a good daily oral hygiene routine. This means that you need to brush your teeth and floss each day. 

If you suspect you have gum disease or notice symptoms like bleeding gums, gum recession, or persistent bad breath, talk to your dentist as soon as possible. Catching gum disease early can help prevent it from progressing to its more severe stages