An early stage research has proposed that gum disease has been associated to a greater rate of cognitive decline in people with Alzheimer’s disease.
Published in PLOS ONE, the small study observed 59 people who have mild to moderate dementia.
The study suggests that the body’s reaction to gum inflammation may be speeding up the brain’s deterioration.
According to the Alzheimer’s Society, if this connection was proven to be correct, then great oral health, especially if provided by an adult dentistry practitioner, may help slow down dementia.
The way the body responds to inflammatory conditions may be a contributing factor to the accelerated decline. The swelling of the immune cells due to inflammation has long been linked to Alzheimer’s. Scientists believe that this discovery adds some gravity to the evidence that the inflammation in the brain is what drives the disease.
Jointly led by King’s College London and University of Southampton cognitively evaluated the subjects before taking blood samples to gauge inflammatory markers in their blood.
The subjects’ oral health was also evaluated by a qualified dentist ajax who was not aware of the cognitive results.
Among the the sample group, 22 were discovered to have considerable gum disease while for the other 37 participants, the disease was much less apparent. The average age of the group without gum disease was 79 while for the other group, it was 75.
52 of the subjects were tracked for the next six months and all assessments were repeated.
The study suggests that the presence of gum disease, also known as periodontitis, was linked with a six-fold increase in the rate of cognitive decline.
Cause or Effect
Alzheimer’s Society’s director of research and development Dr. Doug Brown acknowledged that the study “adds evidence to the idea that gum disease could potentially be a contributing factor to Alzheimer’s”
Brown added that if this is proven to be true, then this means that practicing better dental hygiene is a great way to help slow down progress of dementia and enable people to retain their independence longer.