The Link Between Dental Health and Alzheimer’s Disease

It may be surprising to learn that people with poor dental health are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s Disease. Research has found there is a correlation between chronic periodontitis (gum inflammation) and Alzheimer’s. At Hicks Dental Group in Prescott, we want you to be aware of the link between dental health and Alzheimer’s disease, because periodontitis can be easily prevented with good dental care.

 

What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative brain disorder. This means that it causes brain cells to waste away, and it gets worse over time. It is the most common form of dementia and is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States. Alzheimer’s interferes with memory, thinking, language, and behavior. Despite the common misconception, Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of aging.

 

What Exactly is Periodontitis?

Periodontitis is a chronic inflammatory disease of the gums. It is caused by a buildup of bacteria due to poor oral hygiene. Gingivitis is the earliest stage of periodontitis. This stage is characterized by red, swollen gums that may bleed with brushing. As periodontitis progresses, the infection and resulting inflammation worsens. This causes the gums to recede and eventually be destroyed. Tooth and bone loss will occur. It also causes an inflammatory response throughout the whole body.

 

What is the Link Between Dental Health and Alzheimer’s Disease?

While the exact cause of the correlation is unknown, current research shows that chronic inflammation of the gums is associated with brain inflammation. In fact, having periodontitis for at least 10 years puts you at a 70% increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, according to a 2017 Chang Shung Medical University study. The study concludes: Our findings support the notion that infectious diseases associated with low-grade inflammation, such as chronic periodontitis, may play a substantial role in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease. These findings highlight the need to prevent progression of periodontal disease and promote healthcare services at the national level.”

Another study conducted in 2015 also found a correlation. This study hypothesizes that the inflammation in the gums leads to the presence of proinflammatory molecules in the bloodstream. These molecules, the study proposes, cross the blood brain barrier and damage brain cells.

 

Now that you are aware of the link between dental health and Alzheimer’s disease, we hope you understand the importance of dental hygiene, especially as you age. The good news is that you can easily prevent periodontitis with daily oral hygiene and regular dental visits with our practitioners here at Hicks Dental Group in Prescott.

 

Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (1/31/2019) Pixaby