The effects of Alzheimer’s disease may not be reversible, but your senior loved one can take certain measures to slow its progression. Engaging in mental activities, socialization, and regular exercise and eating a healthy diet are some of the ways to mitigate cognitive decline. Your loved one should also focus on oral hygiene because poor gum health can increase the rate of cognitive decline.
The Connection Between Oral Health & Physical Health
Good oral hygiene offers several benefits. If your loved one doesn’t receive the appropriate oral care, he or she is more likely to contract harmful diseases like pneumonia, gum disease, and life-threatening infections. Because pneumonia is one of the most frequent causes of death in seniors with Alzheimer’s disease, your loved one should take oral hygiene seriously.
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Gum Disease & Alzheimer’s
Make sure your loved one doesn’t contract gum disease. Studies show gum disease can cause a sixfold increase in the rate of cognitive decline. Researchers aren’t quite sure about the connection between the two health issues. However, they suspect that when seniors with Alzheimer’s contract gum disease, the body’s immune system works too hard to defend itself from the gum disease, leading to an overproduction of protein plaques in the brain.
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Additional Consequences of Gum Disease
As gum disease can accelerate the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, you should help your loved one maintain good oral hygiene. Gum disease can have other long-term consequences that can be detrimental to a senior’s health. For example, gum disease can lead to periodontitis, a condition where the gums swell so much that they leave pockets around the roots of the teeth. The roots are then susceptible to damage from acids and bacteria, leading to a loss of teeth. Gum disease can also lead to dental abscesses, which can cause irritability, oral sensitivity, toothaches, and headaches. Persistent oral pain caused by gum disease, tooth infections, or periodontitis can make eating and drinking painful, which can prevent seniors from getting the nutrients they need to fight off infection.
Recognizing the Signs of Gum Disease
Regularly check your loved one for signs of gum disease and oral infections. After brushing his or her teeth, look for noticeable amounts of blood in the sink or on the toothbrush, as this can be a sign of oral conditions. Other signs include loose teeth and shiny, red gums. Regardless of whether your loved one shows signs of gum disease, make sure he or she receives regular dental care. Dentists are best qualified to spot symptoms of gum disease and infection, and they can provide immediate treatment to seniors with oral conditions.
Hiring a professional caregiver is one of the best ways to help your loved one mitigate the symptoms of gum disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and other health issues. Families looking for top-rated Philadelphia elderly home care providers can reach out to Home Care Assistance. From respite care to specialized Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care, there are many ways we can make life easier for seniors and their loved ones. If you need compassionate professional at-home care for your loved one, call one of our friendly Care Managers today at (215) 645-4663.