Good dental care has far-reaching health implications. Periodontal, or gum, disease has been linked to a wide array of illnesses including heart disease, diabetes, and respiratory disease. People with gum disease are twice as likely to die from a heart attack and three times as likely to have a stroke.
What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease is an inflammatory condition. When your gums are inflamed, bacteria in your mouth can enter the bloodstream, affecting and inflaming other parts of your body. Periodontitis is common among the elderly and it may be even more common in those with Alzheimer’s as the ability to provide self-care declines as the disease progresses.
Connection Between Periodontal Disease & Alzheimer’s Diseases?
In a recent study, researchers at the University of Southampton and King’s College London found a connection between periodontitis and an increase in the severity of dementia and cognitive decline in those who already suffer from Alzheimer’s Disease.
With periodontitis, high levels of antibodies attack the bacteria which results in an increase of inflammatory molecules in the body. Blood samples were measured for these inflammatory signs at the beginning of the study and six months following. Of the 52 patients involved. their was a six-fold increase in the rate of cognitive decline. and a relative increase in the inflammatory state.
More Research Is Needed
As the study was conducted with a small number of participants, researchers suggest that further trials should be conducted on a larger test group before conclusive results are reached. But if there is a direct connection, as the study suggests, it would perhaps lead to the prevention and care of gum disease as one possible tool in the treatment of Alzheimer’s.
Note: Information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified dental and medical health providers with questions you may have regarding your specific dental or medical conditions.