Gum Disease and Dementia Connection. Better Go Brush!

Did you brush your teeth and floss today? Research is showing a connection between gum disease and dementia. Dementia is a leading cause of long-term health care.

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Gum Disease and Dementia Connection. Better Go Brush!
2 Min Read April 19th, 2021

Good oral health is something most people want to strive for, but if you are looking for another excuse to brush three times and a day and floss your teeth, new research may help you get motivated.

New research shows that individuals who have poor oral health also have higher amyloid beta levels. Amyloid is a dangerous protein that is found in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease, the Daily Mail reported

One hypothesis is that pro-inflammatory diseases, like gum disease, block the body from flushing out any amyloid from the brain.  

The study, published in the journal Alzheimer's & Dementia: Diagnosis, Assessment & Disease Monitoring, is the latest connection made between gum disease and Alzheimer's. The correlation between gum disease and dementia and other brain diseases has been reported for years. Previous studies have found that bacteria-causing gingivitis can metastasize from the mouth to the brain.

Many People Over Age 65 Have Gum Disease

It is not yet known if deep cleaning your teeth can stave off Alzheimer's disease. About 70% of those aged 65 and older have gum disease. Experts suggest maintaining good oral health habits. These habits include daily flossing and brushing twice a day. Experts also suggest that regular dental check-ups are essential throughout your life.

Nearly 50 million people worldwide have dementia. An estimated 6.2 million Americans aged 65 and older have Alzheimer's dementia in the United States, according to the Alzheimer's Association. As you get older, the risk increases, with 72% being aged 75 and older. 

Dementia – A Leading Cause of Long-Term Health Care

Dementia, including Alzheimer's, is a leading cause of long-term health care, with over $305 billion spent in 2020. These expenditures included all health care, long-term care, and hospice services. This number does not include the costs of unpaid family members providing care. This extended care is expensive, according to the LTC NEWS Cost of Care Calculator. Care costs increase every year.

American families provided 18.4 billion hours of unpaid care for loved ones with Alzheimer's and other dementias, valued at over $232 billion. Health insurance, including Medicare, pays for only a limited amount of long-term health care. Unless an individual owns Long-Term Care Insurance, the costs either come from savings and income or families provide the care.

Medicaid will pay for this type of care, but you must have little or no income and assets to qualify.

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About the Author

An LTC News author focusing on long-term care and aging.

LTC News Contributor James Kelly

James Kelly

Contributor since August 21st, 2017

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A complete retirement plan should include a strategy for longevity and the impact that long-term health care will have on you, your family, income, savings, lifestyle, and legacy. This includes the consequences due to dementia. Affordable Long-Term Care Insurance gives you access to your choice of quality care either at home or in a facility.

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