7 Signs That You are a Candidate for Alzheimer’s. Based on Your Teeth!
From Teeth to the Brain. The Logical Path to Alzheimer’s?
As a dentist, I’ve witnessed how the mouth can be the first sign of diseases all over the body. One big mistake we can make with dental problems is addressing them too late. When a tooth has a cavity, there’s no option but to treat it with dental fillings, crowns, and root treatments.
Dental diseases fit into the chronic disease category that is seeing an alarming rise in society.
It’s estimated that 100 million people across the world will battle Alzheimer’s disease by 2050. These numbers have jumped from 26 million just over ten years ago. While an impending Alzheimer’s epidemic may be put down to the fact we’re living longer, research is suggesting that there may be early signs of cognitive decline.
For example, the first cognitive signs of Alzheimer’s disease may be:
- Memory loss
- Speech problems
- Confusion and trouble understanding simple tasks
The problem is that if we wait for cognitive decline, the disease has been present for many years. There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. Like teeth, the challenge of neurodegenerative diseases is to identify the long-term causes of the problem. If we don’t feed our teeth the right thing, they decay. Alzheimer’s disease may better be very concept as long-term tooth decay of the brain.
The teeth and bones provide some of the best signs whether we are feeding ourselves the right thing. To prevent the Alzheimer’s, there may be ways to spot the signs early, via nutrient deficiencies.
And your teeth could give those first clues.
Here are seven dental signs that you may be at risk of Alzheimer’s:
- Snoring and sleep disorders: Your brain needs oxygen. Many people are often starving themselves of oxygen through breathing and sleep disorders. The term ‘apnea’ refers to a pause in breathing. People with sleep-disordered breathing experience repeated episodes of apneas during sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), occurs in 3 in 10 men and 1 in 5 women, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
For the brain, recent studies have revealed that a sleep disorder can increase beta-amyloid deposits over a three-year period. This was true regardless of the presence of the APOE-e4 gene considered a risk factor for Alzheimer’s. Sleep disorders, like any chronic disease, progress over time and may contribute to neurodegenerative conditions. If you snore, mouth breath or wake up with a dry mouth, you may have a sleep disorder.
- Teeth grinding – Worn or ‘flat’ front teeth, especially the eye teeth or canines indicate jaw movements in the evening that may be related to ‘waking’ events. These may indicate oxygen deprivation during sleep and also may relate to magnesium deficiency. Both of these have been shown to relate to Alzheimer’s disease.
- Tooth decay – A dental cavity is a sign your body is not managing minerals for your teeth. One of the body’s primary ways of distributing calcium is vitamin D. Low vitamin D is linked to risk of tooth decay. The brain is also covered in vitamin D receptors and is dependent on vitamin D levels. Similar to tooth decay, vitamin D deficiency is linked to Alzheimer’s disease. Low blood levels of vitamin D make us more susceptible to tooth decay in early life, and Alzheimer’s disease in later life.
- Lichen planus, mouth ulcers, and Sjogren’s syndrome – These conditions are auto-immune problems that can be detected as fluffy white lesions on the cheek or tongue. Other signs are red, ulcerated lesions or dry mouth. New research is suggesting that Alzheimer’s disease may coexist with auto-immune problems, which could first be spotted in the mouth.
- Bleeding gums – If your gums bleed when you brush, it’s a general sign of inflammation. Neuro-inflammation is one model of how the progression of Alzheimer’s disease occurs. Bleeding gums indicate a general level of inflammation in the body, which if not addressed, may contribute to inflammation-driven cognitive decline.
- Gum disease – Periodontal disease has a close association with insulin-resistant type II diabetes. However, dubbed type-III diabetes, blood sugar regulation is now thought to be involved in Alzheimer’s disease. Gum disease, type II diabetes, and neurodegeneration may all be related to insulin resistance and blood sugar.
- Swollen tongue – An enlarged, red tongue may be a sign of vitamin B12 deficiency. Vitamin B12 is crucial for neural growth and development. Long-term vitamin B12 deficiency may be linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
Dental and neural decline diseases share strikingly similar processes in the body. An oral-systemic strategy for early-onset Alzheimer’s prevention may include:
- Vitamin D and vitamin B rich diets
- Removing refined sugar from your diet
- Get enough sunlight
- Weight loss
- Smoking cessation
- Alcohol reduction
- Chronic nasal congestion treatment
- Sleep assessment
Your mouth is the gateway to your entire body and the food you eat shapes your smile, body, and brain.