Family members and professional caregivers must ensure seniors with Alzheimer’s continue demonstrating personal hygiene habits, which includes oral hygiene. A group of scientists from the University of Central Lancashire in Great Britain found a bacterium known as Porphyromonas gingivalis in the brains of deceased seniors with dementia. The microbe is commonly implicated as a factor in chronic gum disease.
An organization known as Brains for Dementia Research donated brain tissue to the University of Central Lancashire from 10 different individuals who were diagnosed with dementia when alive. The institution also acquired 10 samples of brain tissue from deceased people who were not living with dementia disorders. All of the samples derived from people with dementia had Porphyromonas gingivalis. However, the organism was not present in the tissues of the people who were not affected by the cognitive disorder.
Porphyromonas gingivalis is commonly found in the mouth. However, the microbe gains access to the bloodstream when eating or brushing teeth. Once in the blood, the organism has the potential to bypass the blood-brain barrier and infect the brain.
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In 2010, New York University researchers found a link between a lack of oral hygiene and the development of gum inflammation with Alzheimer’s. Scientists from the University of New Mexico believed the Herpes simplex virus type 1 organism that causes cold sores may also lead to cognitive impairment.
Some researchers believe bacterial and viral infections may lead to dementia. Inflammation has been linked with cognitive disorders, and microbial infections cause inflammation. However, scientists from UCLA explain that sufficient evidence does not exist linking poor dental hygiene in otherwise healthy people to the eventual development of Alzheimer’s disease. It might be that the presence of the microorganisms simply exacerbates the processes that lead to or cause Alzheimer’s.
More studies involving diseased and healthy brain tissue along with dental records must be analyzed before scientists can accurately formulate a conclusion. However, the new findings might allow researchers to use Porphyromonas gingivalis as an indication in blood tests to determine which adults might be more prone to developing Alzheimer’s.
Scientist Simon Ridley, Ph.D., from Alzheimer’s Research U.K. also recommends further studies. Ridley shares that the presence of the bacteria might occur due to the poor oral health of people with dementia. Once afflicted, older adults no longer have the mental capacity to perform tasks like personal hygiene. Without supervision and guidance from caregivers, the infection becomes a consequence due to a lack of routine oral hygiene.
Caring for a senior with Alzheimer’s disease is often overwhelming for families who lack experience in Alzheimer’s care. If you are the primary caregiver for a senior family member and you need respite care, Rockwall, TX, Home Care Assistance is here to help. Our respite caregivers are trained to assist older adults with a wide variety of everyday tasks, including meal prep, physical activity, and personal hygiene. We also provide 24-hour care and specialized care for seniors with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and Parkinson’s.
Importance of Oral Health
Despite having Alzheimer’s, it remains important for older adults to continue practicing oral hygiene techniques to avoid inflammation and pain, which could lead to tooth loss. Oral infections have also been implicated in other health issues such as cardiovascular disease. Oral problems may also cause a cognitively impaired adult to refuse food, which leads to weight loss and poor overall health.
Family caregivers must assist their senior loved one to maintain a proper dental care.
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