A new study from Chung Shan Medical University in Taichung City has determined that people who have had periodontitis for more than 10 years are 70% more likely than people without periodontitis to develop Alzheimer’s disease.
Learn more about the study, the potential link between this gum disease and the development of Alzheimer’s and the importance of senior dental health.
Inflammation, Periodontitis and the Development of Alzheimer’s
Periodontitis is chronic gum inflammation, a leading cause of tooth loss. Previous studies have associated it with an increase in markers of inflammation throughout the body. Recently, studies have linked gum disease to a decline in cognitive ability.
The Chung Shan Medical University team used data provided by Taiwan’s National Health Insurance Research Database to determine if there was a link between people over the age of 50 with chronic periodontitis and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s.
While they found no overall link, they did find that people with gum diesease who were over the age of 70 and had been living with it for a decade or more, were 70% more likely than people without periodontitis to develop Alzheimer’s.
The study accounted for other factors that may influence the risk of Alzheimer’s, including the environment, diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
The study team concluded saying, “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.”
The Association Between Alzheimer’s Disease and Periodontitis
In a “chicken or the egg” type scenario, the study did not determine if Alzheimer’s caused periodontitis or if periodontitis caused the disease.
Dr. Yago Leira Feijoo from Universidad de Santiago de Compostela in Spain who wasn’t involved in the study commented saying, “In fact, it is believed that the association between periodontitis and Alzheimer´s disease may be bi-directional. Currently, with the scientific evidence that is available, we cannot be sure if the risk factor is either periodontal disease or Alzheimer´s disease.”
No matter which it is, it is clear that brain and dental health are closely connected and seniors should brush their teeth carefully to prevent the development of periodontitis.
Did you know about the correlation between Alzheimer’s and gum disease? Share your comments and personal experiences with us in the comments below.
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