Elderly couple on rendered jawbone

How Oral Health and Alzheimer’s Disease Are Connected

Alzheimer’s disease and oral diseases may appear as though they’re linked. Still, when considering the degenerating factors present with both, many researchers have found that Alzheimer’s can heavily contribute to the decline of good oral health. Alzheimer’s disease is often the sixth leading cause of death for seniors due to the traumatic effects it can have on memory, cognitive function, and overall behavior. This disease heavily impacts the quality of life for those 65 and older, and it significantly affects those with previous chronic conditions. As memory becomes harder to maintain, so does good oral health. While preventative measures can be taken on both ends to ensure good health, lacking oral hygiene can heavily influence our bodies, making out symptoms worse that eventually lead to a slow, gradual decline.

How Alzheimer’s Disease Affects Oral Health

Alzheimer’s disease often perpetuates itself through a combination of genetics, poor lifestyle choices, and the effects of aging. Researchers from the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health looked into the link between Alzheimer’s disease and poor oral health. Researchers observed how cognitive function loss and poor memory could influence oral health habits through this clinical study. This study found that the impacts of this neurodegenerative condition can impact the immune system’s ability to protect against diseases, and with poor memory comes a higher risk of developing oral diseases such as gum disease and cavities. With the onset of these diseases comes a cyclical effect on how the immune system responds to the bacteria and causes further detriments to seniors maintaining their oral health and physical health overall.

When combined, these two factors play a heavy role in the health conditions that seniors develop as they get older. Because researchers suggest this link, it’s essential that proper dental examinations and reinforced dental habits can help seniors gain better health and quality of life. But how can dentists provide for patients with Alzheimer’s disease? The best dentists work towards finding the most affordable solutions to accommodate the patient’s needs through multiple factors.

How Dentists Help Patient’s With Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease comes with some inherent challenges that cannot be avoided or ignored while providing health care. For dentists, providing patients and their families the assurance and comfort they need during their services is just one aspect of how dentists work towards providing dental services throughout their communities. These various accommodations can be made to help seniors have a more enjoyable experience:

  • Schedule dental appointments ahead of time for patients with Alzheimer’s disease to prepare for their dental checkups.
  • Offer affordable services for seniors that include preventative measures such as fluoride treatments and dental sealants as a long term solution.
  • Provide custom treatment plants for those suffering from severe oral health problems.

Alzheimer’s patients should always receive the dental healthcare services they need and help reduce the risks of diseases later on in life, as it is one of the best ways that dentists can help patients achieve better oral care and quality of life.

Maureen Karl, DDS, FAGD
As a graduate of the University of Buffalo School of Dental Medicine in 2004, Dr. Maureen Karl continues to hone her craft through continuing education. Dental patients throughout the Granbury, TX area know they can rely on our practice for skilled dental care using the latest practices.