Dementia Awareness Month is being held throughout September this year. It’s a great opportunity for people across Australia to get involved in a number of activities and events that can help raise awareness, support and improve the lives of more than 425,400 Australians who have dementia, as well as their families and carers.
What is dementia?
Dementia definition – Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a range of dementia symptoms which include the loss of an individual’s ability to think, reason, behave normally, communicate, remember and perform everyday activities. Dementia usually affects older adults over the age of 65, and the condition is often progressive and irreversible.
Dementia vs Alzheimer’s disease
Dementia is a more general term used to describe symptoms of cognitive impairment and decline, while Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type from over 100 different diseases that may contribute to and cause dementia.
Individuals, who develop Alzheimer’s disease, have build-ups of amyloid plaques and other toxic substances in their brains that interfere with their brain’s neural network activity.
Besides the most common cause – Alzheimer’s disease – which represents 50% to 70% of all cases of dementia, there are a number of other diseases that cause dementia, including:
- Vascular dementia is associated with blood circulation problems to the brain caused by strokes, high blood pressure and thickened arteries.
- Lewy body dementia (Lewy body disease) is caused by abnormal protein deposits called lewy bodies which can lead to the degeneration and death of the brain’s nerve cells.
- Frontotemporal dementia is a brain degenerative disorder that affects the brain’s frontal and temporal lobes – the parts of the brain responsible for judgement, empathy, behaviour, concentration, mood and communication.
Poor oral health linked to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
New studies from UK researchers have revealed more links between poor oral health and dementia. Clinical evidence has pinpointed the presence of Porphyromonas gingivalis – a pathogenic gum disease bacterial species – in the brain tissue of 40% of individuals with dementia.
To make matters worse, as dementia progresses in an individual, their ability to maintain good oral health decreases over time – this increases the risk of the brain’s exposure to oral bacteria and long-term inflammation.
Show your support for Dementia Awareness Month 2018
For this year’s Dementia Awareness Month, we can all start to make a difference. From a dental perspective, ensuring we maintain good oral health for ourselves and people living with dementia is essential to help lower the risk of dementia for all Australians.
You can also support this year’s event by getting involved and becoming a Dementia Friend. To find out more, visit www.dementia.org.au/dementia-awareness-month
Can oral infection be a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease? Olsen, Ingar and Singhrao, Simarjit Kaur (2015) Journal of Oral Microbiology, 7 . ISSN 2000-2297
Can better management of periodontal disease delay the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s disease? Harding, Alice, Robinson, Sarita Jane, Crean, Stjohn and Singhrao, Simarjit Kaur (2017) Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease . ISSN 1387-2877
Evidence summary: the relationship between oral health and dementia
B. Daly-A. Thompsell-J. Sharpling-Y. Rooney-L. Hillman-K. Wanyonyi-S. White-J. Gallagher – Bdj – (Dec 2017)