Oral health matters for people of all ages, but for the elderly having healthy teeth and gums can significantly improve their lives. Poor oral health can decrease speech, cause poor nutrition, and make interacting with others more difficult. Combined with the effects of Alzheimer’s disease, a neurodegenerative disease that affects the brain’s memory and function can drastically hinder a person’s life. Some studies have begun looking into the effects that oral health may have on Alzheimer’s disease and have found some interesting connections that have made oral health for the elderly all the more essential.
How Oral Health Impacts Those With Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s disease heavily influences cognitive function, memory, and behavior. The gradual loss of memory and worsening of symptoms has led it to be the sixth leading cause of death within the United States. Because of the severity of this disease, studies such as those found in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health have looked into the disease and how oral health affects the disease’s development. When observed throughout multiple patients, cognitive function loss often leads to poor dental habits due to a lack of memory and awareness of surroundings. When combined with degenerating bone density, poor oral habits can lead to a greater risk of developing oral diseases such as cavities, tooth loss, and periodontal disease. With these risks, dentists often have to work more proactively to provide for Alzheimer’s disease patients.
Throughout the study, researchers suggested that as Alzheimer’s disease progresses, so does the increase of oral health diseases. Researchers suggested that regular dental examinations, minimal interventions, and consistent care be given to those with Alzheimer’s as a proactive solution. The disease can make it all the more difficult to keep their teeth and gums healthy. If ignored, worse health conditions can occur, including TMJ pain, oral cancer, and deep-set root cavities, leading to a worse quality of life overall.
How Dentists Work To Help Alzheimer’s Patients
To help combat the long-standing issue of Alzheimer’s disease, dentists who world within elderly communities and with families have preventative measures in place to help those receive the dental services they need. Through vast training, dentists often have the qualifications to work with those of all age groups and offer accommodations for their condition, including:
- Scheduling Regular Exams: Dentists who often work with Alzheimer’s patients can help them schedule dental appointments ahead of time and conveniently to help keep track of their oral health.
- Customizing Treatment Plans: For those with severe oral health problems, dentists can also provide customizable treatment plans to help them receive the dental services they need.
- Offering Preventative Services: Fluoride treatments and dental sealants can be given to provide them with long-term solutions to their oral health problems.
Visiting the dentist and receiving treatment is one of the best ways to help patients with Alzheimer’s receive quality oral healthcare and help reduce the risks of later life problems.