Cognitive decline, including Alzheimer’s disease, is a major concern of the aging population in America. It may now even be the third leading cause of death in America behind only cardiovascular disease and cancer. Although reporting numbers vary, it is safe to say that as of 2014, Alzheimer’s affects approximately 5.2 million Americans and 36 million people globally. Up until recently all of the research to prevent and treat this disease has been focused on identifying a single pathogenic target, and no single drug has been shown to stop or even slow the progression of Alzheimer’s. But this may be about to change.
In a small study by Dr. Dale E. Bredesen at the UCLA Mary S. Easton Center for Alzheimer’s Disease Research along with the Buck Institute for Research on Aging, it was found that using a complex, 36 point therapeutic program that involves comprehensive diet changes, brain stimulation, exercise, sleep optimization, specific pharmaceuticals and vitamins, as well as additional steps affecting brain chemistry, significant improvement in cognitive function has been achieved. (See Bredesen, Dale E., Reversal of Cognitive Decline: A Novel Therapeutic Program, Aging, Sept 2014, Vol.6 N9).
So what’s all this got to do with dentistry you ask? Well, one of the therapies involved in treating dementia with this protocol is reducing the amount of inflammation in the body. Inflammation was found to be a comorbidity in this study. And for those of us with teeth, it has long been known that infection in the gums contributes greatly to the total amount of inflammation in the body, exacerbating other systemic problems like diabetes. Ergo, healthier gums = reduced inflammation = better brain function.
Nine of the 10 people in this study showed significant cognitive improvement following Dr. Bredesen’s protocol. On a personal note, having watched my mother succumb to dementia in her later years, I was glad to see that dental health was recognized in this study as playing a vital role in contributing to cognitive health.
For more information on Alzheimer’s disease, visit the Alzheimer’s Association web page. If you have any questions we can help with relating to reducing inflammation in your mouth, feel free to contact me or the staff at my office, Dr. Laurence Stone in Doylestown, PA with any questions or concerns or to schedule your next visit so we can talk more about this. Remember, brushing two minutes twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and flossing daily are important ways to take care of your dental health.