Warning: Your Teeth Are Affecting Your Brain

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Poor oral health is recently being fingered as a prominent culprit in a host of systemic maladies, including heart and lung diseases – the latest of which is Alzheimer’s.

According to TIME Magazine,* "University of Southern California researchers found that inflammation caused by lost or loose teeth, and the resulting infection, can quadruple the risk of developing Alzheimer's. Treating those inflammatory episodes could help stave off the disease."

Dr. Robert O. Nara (Houghton, MI), with 50 years of dental experience, pushes the envelope one step further: "It has been my experience that poor dental health during a lifetime probably shortens one's life time by as much as ten years!"

TIME further states, "50 research studies of the conditions found that patients who go on to develop Alzheimer's show tell-tale signs - lapses in memory, reasoning, problem solving ability, verbal fluency and attention skills years before the disease is diagnosed."

Assuming that all of this is true, the obvious question then is: Why has all of this been virtually ignored by the dental profession and by the medical profession?

Dr. Nara replies, "It is easy to observe that the medical profession gets little or no training in diseases of the teeth and gums, therefore medical doctors are simply not able to put oral health matters into perspective. The dental profession mostly ignores the impact of how oral inflammation and infection affect the rest of the body, simply because they are not paid to do so..."

"The dental profession is paid to perform 'procedures' such as fillings, extractions, crowns, prosthetic replacement (false teeth), etc., so dentists are disconnected from the overall picture of whole body health.

"It is easy to understand why this field has been totally neglected," adds Nara.

According to Tom Cornwell, publisher of the OraMedia site for Dental Self Sufficiency ( OraMedia.com ), loose teeth are largely the result of periodontal disease (gum disease) due to lack of proper oral hygiene throughout a person's lifetime. "People have the general idea that brushing and flossing will prevent tooth and gum problems - once they get into their twenties and stop getting cavities, they think they are out of the woods," says Cornwell. "Unfortunately, 'knowing' and 'doing' are two different things. Perhaps 1% of the population actually flosses," he adds, "and even so, people are barely aware of oral irrigation and how important that function alone can be to their oral health - prevention and healing."

Gum disease is a quiet one. We tend to ignore a little blood on the toothbrush and put up with a little pain until it becomes unbearable. By the time those and other symptoms show up, however, gum disease can be quite advanced and those signs should NOT be ignored. Recent studies are linking oral infection with a host of diseases not previously related, including heart disease, and now Alzheimer's.

"It really isn't surprising... Nara and a few others wrote about this 25 or 30 years ago," Says Cornwell, "and today, science is confirming it all over the place. The question is: 'How do we make it important enough for the public to start paying attention?' Treating the disease is not all that difficult - it is simply a matter of understanding that the real culprits are bacteria, essentially, not sweets. A person learns how to control the levels of these microbes in the mouth and the body responds by healing itself," adds Cornwell. "In my mind, the public is too focused on tooth whitening, types and costs of dental treatment, dental insurance, mercury amalgams and fluorides. None of these things would be factors if the focus were properly placed on the extra 5 or 10 minutes a day for, and a better knowledge of proper hygiene."

*TIME Magazine, December 5, 2005

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Thomas Cornwell
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