March 10 through 16 is Brain Awareness Week, a worldwide crusade to raise public knowledge of the importance of brain research and neuroscience. The brain is the most complex and mysterious part of the human body, so it is tempting to leave brain health to the experts and to focus your wellness efforts on more understandable realms such as diet and exercise. However, you actually have significant control over the health of your brain. Making regular visits to your Clarkston, MI dentist and choosing metal-free dentistry can help protect you from dementia, Alzheimer’s, and certain neurological conditions.
Gum Disease and Alzheimer’s
It may seem far-fetched, but studies have shown that there is a link between periodontal disease, Alzheimer’s, and dementia. Though scientists have suspected such a link for a long time, new evidence suggests a definitive connection. In 2010, a team of dental researchers at NYU analyzed 20 years of data following 152 subjects in the Glostrop Aging Study. The research showed that subjects with gum disease had a significantly higher risk for brain inflammation, neurodegeneration, Alzheimer’s disease, and overall lower cognitive function. The NYU team also conducted their own tests evaluating cognitive function using the Digit Standard Test, or DST. Subjects with periodontal disease were nine times more likely to score lower on the test than subjects of the same age with healthy gum tissue. Now that scientists know that gum disease definitely compromises brain health, they are trying to figure out why. Research is still in the early stages, but experts believe that oral bacteria enter the blood stream, where they are carried to all parts of the body, including the brain.
Metal-Free Dentistry: The Smart Choice
Silver amalgam is one of the most widely used dental materials, and it has been popular since before the Civil War. Somewhat misnamed, silver amalgam contains approximately 50% mercury. This extremely toxic metal has been linked to a number of serious health conditions, including Alzheimer’s and neurological disorders. Richard Deth of Northwestern University conducted a review of over 100 studies on the link between mercury and neurological dysfunction. He found that mercury inhibits selenium, an antioxidant that keeps dangerous chemical reactions from harming the brain. As selenium becomes less effective, nerves lose their ability to function properly, cells die, and patients experience a decrease in cognitive function.
People are exposed to mercury from a range of sources. However, in 1991 the World Health Organization announced that silver amalgam fillings are the greatest contributor to the presence of mercury in the human body. Norway, Sweden, and Denmark have banned the use of amalgam fillings, but other countries, including the US, continue to use the material with alarming frequency. Fortunately, some dentists, including Dr. Greenfield, are committed to holistic dentistry. Do yourself a favor this Brain Awareness Week. Schedule an appointment with a dentist who protects your cognitive health by offering safe, metal-free dentistry.
About Brad Greenfield, DDS
Dr. Brad Greenfield practices family, restorative, cosmetic, and sedation dentistry with a holistic approach to patient care and comfort. To schedule an appointment with your 48360 dentist, call (248) 693-6213. We proudly serve patients of all ages in Clarkston, Auburn Hills, Oxford, Rochester Hills, and neighboring communities.