Functional Medicine Associates on How Taking Care Of Your Gums Reduces Alzheimers Risk

Functional Medicine: Alzheimer’s Prevention

There is lots of talk in medicine about making our borders with the outside world safe. These bodily borders are where we get the opportunity to talk to and sample “outside” and for most of the time it can be a pretty scary world out there.

Our borders and our border controls therefore have to be able to recognise friend or foe and selectively let things in (like nutrients etc) but refuse entry to others (like bacteria that may harm us). We like to use the term selectively permeable to explain this.

This selective permeability is dependent on whether we provide the raw materials to consistently rebuild these borders and use techniques to keep them as neat and tidy as possible. If we don’t these borders start to lose their structural integrity and become more leaky, hence the term leaky gut. Leaky gut, leaky blood brain barrier, leaky skin and leaky gums, are all ways in which we may be assaulted by the outside world. Cleaning your teeth and having good dental hygiene therefore means that we reduce the border control issues in the mouth. Poor dental hygiene promotes systemic inflammation, risking barrier breaches and promotes systemic inflammation in the body.

Our oral cavities have a host of bacteria that if allowed into the body can cause damage. One of these bacteria is called P. gingivalis, yes the bacteria involved with gingivitis and its been found in our brains where it causes inflammation. Inflammation within the brain is a causative factor in Alzheimers risk. Not only do we see this and other oral bacteria causing trouble in the brain, we see them implicated in CVD. Just to reiterate that last sentence, failing to look after your teeth and gums may put you at increased CVD risk.

Check this paper for more information

Some people (like myself) are genetically susceptible to periodontal disease. You, like me, may be finding that your gums are starting to recede due to the bacteria and the genes that cause inflammation in this area.

Whilst genes load your gun, the extent to which you fire that gun is dependent on how you play the environment.

Regular checks at the dentist is essentially the same as regular checks at the doctor.

Having regular hygienist appointments, using probiotic toothpaste (yes its out there) that competes with the pathogenic bacteria are good Cleaning your teeth and having good dental hygiene therefore means that we reduce the border control issues in the mouth. We can now also go one step further through testing. We can test for the genes that cause oral inflammation, giving a more personal risk of the severity of periodontal disease but also cardiovascular disease risk.

We can also identify the type and concentration of perio-pathogenic bacteria which helps to guide better therapy. I am at risk for all by the way.

This has led to some very interesting questions that I am pondering over. Should I spend more time “working out” to reduce my CVD and Alzheimers risk (a usual choice for me) or should I spend more time on oral hygiene measures? In essence both these measures may be as important as each other.

Keeping your borders well controlled and optimally constructed helps you fend off the outside world more effectively, reducing your risk of CVD and Alzheimers. And maybe as I do now, spend more time working out in the oral hygiene gym.

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