Periodontal Illness, Dementia, the Chicken, and the Egg
Evidence has been accumulating in recent years pointing to possible connections between periodontal disease and various systemic illnesses including dementia and diabetes. While the connections are important, the information can be contradictory. It may bring to mind the ancient paradox about whether the egg or the chicken came first. (Technically, eggs long preceded chickens.)
As explained in a Medical News Today article from 2022, the evidence shows that many people with dementia have developed significant gum diseases. The question, however, is this: Since severe cognitive impairment causes people to neglect their oral health, leading to periodontal illness, is that the only connection? Or, has periodontal illness made sufferers more vulnerable to contracting serious cognitive ailments such as Alzheimer’s disease? Could the problem be what doctors call bidirectional: a vicious circle of cognitive impairment worsening self-care, making already present periodontal issues that much worse, leading to more dementia?
The Medical News article presents a lot of interesting data along with plenty of contradictions and caveats but it does make one clear recommendation that is just good common sense. If you are concerned about dealing with dementia in your later years, it makes sense to maintain good oral health habits and watch out for any possible periodontal issues.
Even if the causation all flows in a single direction and cognitive impairment leads to periodontal illness but not the other way around, the “worst” thing that can happen is that you may not have to deal with the pain and unpleasantness associated with periodontal problems on top of whatever health problems you wind up suffering as you age. The best outcome is that you’ll have helped prevent lost teeth and maybe dementia also. A twofer!
Protect Your Periodontal Health
Aging is inevitable but we make our middle and later years a lot more productive and enjoyable by preventing illnesses, including periodontal disease. Medical science is getting better and better at extending our lifespans despite our health problems. What many of us fail to realize, however, is that even if we recover from heart attacks, strokes, and other common health emergencies, recovery always means time spent in significant discomfort and may be only partial. Engaging in healthy behaviors and avoiding unhealthy habits can not only add years to our lives but also, as the old saying puts it, “life to our years.”
The longer you can protect your teeth and gums while you are reasonably healthy, the less vulnerable they will be when your health starts to decline. Painful oral health problems will be one less difficulty for you and your family.
Stay on Top of Your Oral Health
Dr. Peiman Soleymani is one of the nation’s leading periodontists and implantologists as well as a widely published expert in his field. His team of expert oral health care professionals at Beverly Hills Periodontics & Dental Implant Center has helped countless people from throughout the Los Angeles area and beyond recover from a wide variety of periodontal illnesses as well as helping to provide dental implants.
Our advice on protecting your health is clear though mostly very familiar: Floss, brush twice daily for at least two minutes with a fluoridated toothpaste, see an oral health professional twice yearly, and watch out for the signs of periodontal illness – including bleeding, painful gums (even just a pink toothbrush is cause for concern), and persistent bad breath (halitosis). When these issues appear, it’s time to consult with the best oral health professional you can find.
Concerned About Your Gums? Interested in Dental Implants?
If so, Dr. Peiman Soleymani and his team at Beverly Hills Periodontics and Dental Implant Center want to hear from you. Call us at the phone number on your screen or reach out electronically to schedule a consultation.