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Gum Disease Possibly Linked to Dementia

Gum Disease Possibly Linked to Dementia

Gum Disease Possibly Linked to Dementia

A recent study conducted by Seoul National University determined there may be a modest link between gum disease (called periodontitis) and dementia. The data was collected from an extensive national health insurance screening program. This is the first study of its kind to link gum disease and dementia. Dementia is an umbrella term category that describes the decline in mental capacity and a decline in reasoning and memory. The most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. There are a reported 36.5 million people living with dementia as of 2012, and it is considered a public health priority. It is suggested that a 20% decrease in risk factors could reduce the overall projected prevalence of dementia by at least 15%.

What is Gum Disease?

Gum disease, or periodontitis, is an inflammation and destruction of the bone, gums and ligament that attach the teeth in the tooth sockets. Periodontitis starts with gingivitis, which is an inflammation of the gums. Bacteria build up in the mouth cause the formation of plaque, which contributes to the inflammation process. Gum disease can eventually lead to tooth mobility and tooth loss.

Link Between Gum Disease and Dementia

There appears to be a significantly higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease for participants with severe gum disease. For the study, 263,349 health records were studied. Findings suggested that people with periodontal disease had a 6% higher risk of developing dementia, in particular Alzheimer’s disease. The study can prove there is a link between gum disease and dementia, but not that gum disease is a cause of dementia.

Possible Causes Include

  • The bacteria from the mouth enters the bloodstream and crosses the blood-brain barrier into the brain, which causes inflammation of the brain tissue and the production of the proteins that are found with Alzheimer’s disease.
  • The second possible cause is that gum inflammation could set up a full-body inflammatory state that releases agents that promote inflammation. These agents can also cross the blood-brain barrier and lead to the same production of protein buildup.
  • Thirdly, there could be damage that occurs to the blood vessels, which may lead to protein buildup.

Maintain adequate oral hygiene for optimal oral health and potentially brain health. Contact us to schedule your visit today.

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