The headline read: The 2-Minute Habit That May Prevent Alzheimer’s.
It grabbed me on more than one level. At first it was all business. Yes, Alzheimer’s, it’s a part of my industry. This may be something new I can share with clients and my contemporaries. Personally, I was already considering whether I would invest two minutes to prevent a disorder. Perhaps I ought to check this out to determine its validity, to confirm or deny.
The article outlines surprising new research that indicates that taking good care of our teeth may dramatically curtail risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Scientists are finding signs of gum disease bacteria in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients, adding to a growing body of evidence that suggests periodontal gum disease presents great risk for this disorder.
I will certainly respect anything with a mile-long name like Porphyromonas gingivalis. It sounds like it could walk the earth. It sure seemed likely that the bacterium P. gingivalis could travel to the brain of those with chronic gum disease. My discomfort began when I read that 50 percent of adults over 30 and 70 percent of those over 65 are affected by periodontal disease. I was feeling more than a little uneasy as I read that bacterium travel could begin during ordinary activities like eating or brushing.
My thoughts raced back to a kind dental hygienist (well, every hygienist I’d ever had) who trained me to ward off periodontal disease, gently coaching me on the techniques and benefits of flossing. I also flashed back over years of television programming that warned me of the horrors of GINGIVITIS. They don’t call it “programming” for nothing.
The fact remains that I mostly go with what I’ve been told, er sold, er was encouraged to do which was to maintain healthy teeth and gums by daily brushing and flossing. Was I now willing to reevaluate my daily habits with this information? I pressed on.
Before long ominous phrases like “multiplies risk” were being used. One study after another was cited linking oral bacteria and memory loss. One type of cell discussed , one of the Hallmarks (their words) of Alzheimer’s disease, was the “glial” cell, a culprit that may generate inflammation in brain cells involved with Alzheimer’s, leading to nerve cell damage and destruction. Destruction.
I felt the need to floss.
My mind raced. How had I not known? Why wasn’t America waging an awareness campaign like none other? I was reaching top speed, desperation consuming my worldview when the article began to ease into The Solution. Let’s ratchet things down a bit…
But wait! One more comment prefaced The Solution that appears below. A study found that those who didn’t brush daily were up to 65 percent more likely to develop dementia than those who brushed three times a day.
I felt a certain girding coming on with respect to my dental habits. ‘You?
So here is the “what we’ve been told” part. Scan it to see if there is anything new for you.
- Brush at least twice a day, in the morning and at bedtime. Many dentists recommend using an electronic toothbrush for two minutes and fluoride toothpaste.
- Be sure to brush both the back and front of each tooth, along with your gums and tongue.
- Floss at least once a day, being sure to wrap the floss around each tooth to remove debris and bacteria. An oral irrigator, such as Waterpik, can also be helpful for cleaning between the teeth.
- Know the symptoms of gum disease and alert your dentist if you have any of them. The leading warning sign is bleeding when you brush or floss. Others include red, puffy or tender gums, loose teeth, pus between your gums and teeth, and a change in your bite (how your teeth fit together), any of which should warrant a prompt dental checkup.
- Visit your dentist at least twice a year for a checkup and professional cleaning. Even if you don’t have any symptoms of gum disease, the checkup should include measuring the pockets between your teeth, which is done painlessly with a dental probe. In the early stages, gum disease may not cause any obvious symptoms.
- Avoid smoking, which greatly increases risk for gum disease.
I read all that. I reacted to it. Re-acted. Interestingly, this event raised more questions for me, and I now pose them to you:
Are your antennae up regarding change?
Are you willing to reevaluate what you have “always been told”?
Might it be time to revisit what is known to see if there is anything new?
Will you accept new information and take action?
Reevaluate. We do it for ourselves and for those we love.
If it is time to reevaluate the needs of your senior loved ones, visit us at NAVIGATE NC. If we can help (or if you simply want to discuss how we will) call us at (919) 628-6448. NAVIGATE NC serves seniors in the Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill areas of North Carolina including Wake, Durham, Orange and surrounding counties.
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