The Hidden Link Between Gum Disease and Alzheimer's
Posted on 4/10/2023 by Dr. Boustany
Gum disease affects millions of people in America. This disease starts as gingivitis, the first stage, and if not checked, it escalates and develops into periodontitis, a severe form of gum disease. If you do not seek proper treatment, you can start experiencing bone and tooth loss and other serious health conditions such as Alzheimer's. A person with Alzheimer's is unable to remember people, locations, or even themselves. So, how does a problem that begins in the mouth contribute to issues in the brain?
The Link Between Gum Disease and Alzheimer's
A specific kind of bacterium known as Porphyromonas gingivalis is linked to Alzheimer's. These bacteria develop in people with periodontitis. The same bacterium is also found in individuals who suffer from Alzheimer's. Although people who have gum disease may not always develop this neurological disease, there is a possibility. Researchers have tried studying the link between gum disease and Alzheimer's.
In one study, a research team at the University of Central Lancashire injected Porphyromonas gingivalis into the gum tissue of healthy mice. The bacteria later were found in the brains. In addition, the team discovered that the mice's brains experienced damage to the neurons as well as increased amounts of beta-amyloid. Together, damaged neurons and high levels of beta-amyloid form plaque in the brains of people living with Alzheimer's. This specific study may not provide sufficient evidence to exactly ascertain that people with gum disease will always end up with Alzheimer's, however, it gives a clear indicator that a connection between the bacteria in the mouth and brain exists.
It is paramount that you prevent gum disease in the first place by brushing and flossing. Maintaining good oral health offers many benefits to your overall health. Our periodontal team offers treatments like scaling and root planing to help get rid of plaque and tartar that have accumulated in the mouth. If your mouth is showing signs of gum disease, visit our dental office immediately to get treatment before you begin suffering other serious and chronic health conditions such as Alzheimer's and diabetes, or even heart disease.