"Alright, let's take a look,” says Dr. Benjamin Brooks as he looks into his patient’s mouth. “The filling looks super nice down there." Dr. Brooks owns Midtown Dental in Reno. He does not just search for cavities during these regularly check-ups, but also good oral health, too. "That means no bleeding when you're brushing or flossing, no pain, no swollen gums, no puffy gums, no bad breath on a normal basis."

Studies show symptoms in the mouth may reflect larger issues in the body like heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Most recently, researchers believe they have discovered a possible correlation with another disease that affects tens of millions of people around the world. “Recently they found bacteria that's associated with gum disease in the brains of patients with Alzheimer's,” explains Dr. Brooks.

Long-term exposure to periodontal disease bacteria causes inflammation and degeneration of brain neurons in mice. So researchers created chronic periodontitis in the oral cavity of mice, which is basically soft tissue damage and bone loss. After 22 weeks, they studied their brain tissue and found the group had significantly higher amounts of a bacterial byproduct that has also been found in the brain tissue of Alzheimer's patients.

"Hopefully more research will show where that association leads to and hopefully it leads to better treatment for gum disease and Alzheimer's." Dr. Brooks adds that it's association, not causation at this point. "Do patients have gingivitis and bad bacteria once they stop taking care of themselves or did it contribute in some way?" However, he is certain good oral hygiene can impact more than just your mouth. "Inflammation in the mouth definitely affects the rest of the body. So it's worth taking care of; worth paying attention to."

To learn more about Midtown Dental, visit: http://midtowndentalreno.com/.

You can also read more about the mice model study at