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Researchers Link Gum Disease to Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer's blog 1 LHDC

September is World Alzheimer’s Month. Here at the practice, we have been looking into some recently conducted studies that we feel are important to mention.

In Taiwan, researchers from National Defense Medical Center and the Chung Shan Medical University, have completed a study into the links between Alzheimer’s and gum disease.

The retrospective cohort study used data from the National Health Insurance Program of Taiwan and examined people aged 50 or over who had a 10 year or longer history of periodontitis. The researchers then checked whether they developed Alzheimer’s disease at a later date, comparing them with people who did not have chronic periodontitis, discovering that those with chronic periodontitis had a 70% increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s than those without. They concluded that “infectious diseases associated with low-grade inflammation, such as chronic periodontitis, may play a substantial role in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease” which “highlights the need to prevent progression of periodontal disease”.

Researchers took other factors into account, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and the urban environment, which all potentially influence the development of Alzheimer’s disease. The link between long-term periodontitis and Alzheimer’s was still present.

Gum disease is highly unpleasant. Symptoms range from bad breath and abscesses to bleeding gums and tooth loss. It is a scary thought to think that gum disease could contribute to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, so we need more than ever to make sure that we are taking the correct steps to ensure good oral health. By visiting us for regular dental examinations, we will be able to spot any potential problems early on and tackle them more efficiently. Interestingly, other studies have linked excessive consumption of sugar to Alzheimer’s disease when it is already known that excessive sugar consumption can also lead to gum disease.

A recent investigation analysed the diets of 2,226 pensioners over the course of 7 years. It was discovered that those who added more than 2 and a half spoonful’s of sugar to their cups of tea or coffee were 54% more likely to develop Alzheimer’s than those who added none. Those who drank sugary, fizzy drinks or fruit juices, or added sugar to their bowls of cereal or puddings also faced significant increased risks. Now, you might be sick of hearing dentists telling you to cut down on sugar for the sake of your oral health, but this is yet another health implication for you to consider. Cutting down on sugar is an excellent place to start, but you can also help reduce your risk of gum disease by sticking to these simple points:

  • Brush your teeth (preferably with an electric toothbrush) twice a day
  • Use dental floss and interdental tools to clean any missed areas
  • Drink plenty of water to rinse your mouth of any food residue throughout the day
  • Attend your routine dental examinations!

Alzheimer’s is believed to affect nearly 50 million people worldwide; it is the most common form of dementia.

If you would like any further advice on how to keep your teeth and gums healthy, please feel free to call us on 020 7487 5221 and book in an appointment. We look forward to seeing you here at the practice.