Oral health & alzheimers November is Alzheimer’s awareness month so let’s take a look at Alzheimer’s and its link to oral health!

Alzheimer’s disease is becoming more prevalent each year, affecting 1 in 10 people over the age of 65 (1 in 3 over the age of 85) and sadly, most of us know someone who has been impacted by this devastating disease.

Did you know that your mouth is home to more than 700 species of microorganisms? Most are protective and contribute to a healthy mouth and a healthy body but some of these bacteria contribute to periodontal disease, a chronic infection of the gums. If left untreated, not only does periodontal disease lead to bone and tooth loss, new research has also linked it to an increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. A 2016 study found people with periodontal disease are 70% more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.

How is the mouth and periodontal disease related to Alzheimer’s Disease? Recently, scientists have discovered that one of the bacteria associated with periodontal disease, P. gingivalis, secretes a toxin that is damaging to brain neurons and contributes to the development of beta-amyloid plaques. The buildup of amyloid plaques leads to the activation of immune cells and inflammation which eventually destroys brain cells.

Maintaining a healthy mouth and managing periodontal disease is critical, especially in older adults or individuals who have an increased risk for dementia. We recommend visiting your dentist for regular check ups and excellent home care, including brushing and flossing twice a day.

Dioguardi M, Crincoli V, Laino L, Alovisi M, Sovereto D, Mastrangelo F, Russo LL, Muzio LL. The Role of Periodontitis and Periodontal Bacteria in the Onset and Progression of Alzheimer’s Disease: A Systematic Review. J Clin Med. 2020 Feb 11;9(2):495. doi: 10.3390/jcm9020495. PMID: 32054121; PMCID: PMC7074205.

Ide M, Harris M, Stevens A, Sussams R, Hopkins V, Culliford D, et al. (2016) Periodontitis and Cognitive Decline in Alzheimer’s Disease. PLoS ONE 11(3): e0151081. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0151081

Alzheimer’s Association, 2021 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures, Alzheimer’s Dement 2021; 16(3):391+

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Beydoun, M.A., et al. (2020). Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease 75: 157- 172