As we age, we begin to lack the ability to absorb the nutrients we need to maintain our muscle and bone health. Nutrients such as vitamin D, calcium, and magnesium become harder to get from our diets, and with that issue comes many health problems for our teeth. However, many of those nutrients also help maintain our memory, cognitive thinking skills, and overall brain function. For people with Alzheimer’s disease, this disease can compound oral health problems and cause issues with maintaining oral routines and good dental care. As the sixth reoccurring cause of death in the United States, this gradual and harmful disease makes it difficult for people to maintain basic tasks and can ultimately harm their oral health.
How Alzheimer’s Affects People’s Oral Health
Looking into the effects of Alzheimer’s disease, this condition has been linked to oral health problems such as gingivitis and tooth decay. Studies from Harvard University have shown that gingivitis can lead to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s due to a species of bacteria known as the Porphyromonas gingivalis, as this species of bacteria can easily move from the mouth to our brains. As it moves from the mouth to the brain, it can eventually destroy nerve cells that control memory, leading to Alzheimer’s.
Not only does oral health problems lead to this harmful condition, but it can also exasperate problems further with dental health. Studies from the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health have cited that Alzheimer’s can lead to an increased risk of oral health issues such as gingivitis and tooth decay and can also affect regular habits such as remembering to brush your teeth daily. As these problems continue to persist for those with this condition, having both oral problems and Alzheimer’s disease can make it difficult for those patients to reach out to dentists, receive help brushing and flossing their teeth, and find ways of receiving help with other daily tasks.
Helping A Relative With Alzheimer’s Care For Their Teeth
If you have a loved one with this condition, then it’s essential to find the resources necessary to care for their health. When it comes to caring for their oral health, there are many ways you can help them care for their teeth. Here are our suggestions for helping your loved ones receive the care they need:
- Give Simple Instructions: If they’ve forgotten how to brush their teeth, help guide them by giving them simple instructions such as “Place the toothpaste on the toothbrush” and “Brush your teeth.” Be present with them as a show of support.
- Help Brush Their Teeth: If they cannot brush their teeth on their own, help brush their teeth by gently guiding the toothbrush in their mouth at a 45-degree angle and perform gentle brushings.
- Brush By Example: Brushing your teeth alongside them can be a great form of companionship for them and can help them relearn how to brush their teeth.
- Find The Right Dentist: For their dental checkups, make sure to find a dentist that will be compassionate, will listen to them and your concerns, and will provide you with the most coverage needed to care for their teeth.
With 10 million cases of Alzheimer’s disease being reported each year, caring for their oral health is just one facet of their lifelong need for care. Finding the right dentist for them is crucial for their health, so make sure to schedule an appointment for them today!