The Brain, Heart, Dental Connection
A new study by researchers in England has found that poor dental health habits and gum disease may be linked to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, adding to previous studies that have also suggested a link between oral health and dementia. This new study is significant because it is the first to find specific gum disease bacteria in the brain. In addition, gum disease has also been linked to an increased risk of heart disease because of how gum bacteria can be deposited in the arteries, causing the body to trap them by encapsulating them, leading to a buildup of plaque. These findings mean taking care of your gums is more important than ever.
Gum, or periodontal disease, is primarily due to poor dental hygiene (lack of teeth brushing and flossing) leading to a buildup of bacterial plaque. It can also occur during pregnancy and puberty, and be a symptom of nutritional deficiencies. The most common form of periodontal disease is gingivitis. If left untreated, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis, which is more serious and more difficult to treat. The best treatment for periodontal disease is prevention. Brush your teeth and floss after each meal, and see a holistic dentist for checkups every six months.
Diet: Follow a healthy, whole foods diet, and eat at least 4-5 servings of fresh organic low sugar fruits (berries) and vegetables per day, as well as other high-fiber foods. Eliminate all sugar, refined carbohydrates, processed foods, soda, and commercial fruits juices.
Nutritional Supplements: Nutrients that can prevent and reverse gum disease include folic acid, B complex vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin A, beta carotene, vitamin E (tocopherols), CoQ10, vitamin K2, magnesium, and zinc. Cleaning your gums with a Water Pik to which hydrogen peroxide and powdered vitamin C has been added, can also be very helpful. (For much more information about diet and nutrition, see Chapter 7 of Outstanding Health: The 6 Essential Keys To Maximize Your Energy and Well Being.)
Herbal Remedies: A tincture of equal parts myrrh and Echinacea applied to your gums three times a day using a very fine paintbrush can help improve gum health.
Juicing: Carrot juice, which is high in vitamin A and beta carotene, can also help.
Other: Brush your teeth with a mixture of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide, and massage your gums with your fingers. In cases of bleeding gums make a mouthwash by combining one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in a cup of pure filtered water. Use this to gargle with in the morning and evening.