Alzheimer’s disease is a devastating condition for both the patient and their families. Throughout the course of the disease cognitive function and memory slowly degrade over time, and one of the consequences is impaired oral health. Studies have explored these connections and researchers have dedicated themselves to enhancing the dental care these patients receive, with a special focus on improved dental hygiene and regular visits to the dentist. Patients suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia both require special care to protect their oral health.
Results From Studies Of Alzheimer’s Disease and Oral Health
Studies from the Dentistry Journal and the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health revealed how important proper oral health practices are. Implementing these proper dental hygiene habits can be vital to the health of teeth in Alzheimer’s patients.
The Dentistry Journal study was focused on factors that could determine dementia, how its characterized, and memory impairment leading from loss of cognitive function. The loss of teeth and the presence of periodontal disease can become factors in dementia resulting from the pro-inflammatory agents involved that can have negative effects on the brain’s functioning. Further, the impact of tooth loss on nutrition can lead to related negative impacts on cognitive ability. Alzheimer’s and dementia patients who are in need of dental rehabilitation need an increased amount of attention and care. Bibliographical articles published between February and October of 2018 revealed that those with Alzheimer’s experience loss of quality of life through poor dental health regularly.
The other study mentioned above evaluated the consequences of having Alzheimer’s has on the quality of life of the patient, including financial dependency. It also looked into how the lack of an understood cause of Alzheimer’s means that physicians can only diagnose it through observation. Those with Alzheimer’s have demonstrated an increased risk of cavities and pain in the orofacial area. This is due, in part, to the effect the condition has on the oral hygiene habits of the patient. Enhancing quality of life and controlling dental disease was found to center on the creation of dental care plans tailored to patients with this condition, as well as the use of minimally invasive dental care to limit complications.
How Alzheimer’s Disease is Approached By Dentists
Providing improved quality of life for patients later in life requires dentists to be aware of how to promote their psychological and physical well-being. This begins with specialized approaches to their dental health and preventative care. Dentists focus on taking a number of steps to providing this care, including:
- Preventative Treatments: Dental sealants and fluoride treatments have been proven to reduce the occurrence of cavities and tooth decay. Applying these treatments can limit the development of poor oral health in later years.
- Tailored Care Plans: Those who have older members in their family long term solutions require an awareness of all the factors involved. Dentists can help by providing specialized plans that can limit the occurrence of tooth loss and cavities.
- Minimally Invasive Treatments: For the elderly seeking restorative treatments, minimally invasive options such as veneers and crowns can help reduce further tooth loss and help maintain jaw health.
Research into these topics can help dentists, and their patients have a better understanding of conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and how it affects a person’s oral health, and through this research, give dentists the tools they need to help their patients.