Gum Disease Now Linked to Dementia:
In addition to the overwhelming evidence to support the theory that periodontal disease contibutes to cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and pre-mature births, there are now studies to support a link between periodontal disease and dementia. All countries are experiencing an increase in the number of people over the age of 65 with Alzheimers. Alzheimer’s disease is the leading cause of dementia in the US population.
A study of dementia led by University of South California researchers revealed that missing teeth and chronic inflammation of the mouth at an early age quadruples the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. The study, which was presented at the first Alzheimer’s Association International Conference on Prevention of Dementia, looked at the records of over a hundred pairs of identical twins. Each pair consisted of one twin who had developed dementia, and one who had not. Acting on the principle that identical twins share the same genetic blueprint, the study looked into external factors that could have led to the mental demise of the demented twin.
Dementia is an umbrella term that includes Alzheimer’s disease, and once correctly diagnosed in the twins examined, researchers looked into several potentially modifiable risk factors that could have brought it on. Among these were: periodontal disease before age 35, the experience of a stroke before the onset of dementia, physical exercise between ages 25-50 and years of education.
Titled Potentially Modifiable Risk Factors From Dementia: Evidence from Identical Twins, the study found that a stroke could increase the risk of dementia six-fold in later years, while periodontal disease in early years quadruples that risk.
Lead author Margaret Gatz said the link between periodontal disease and Alzheimer’s does not mean that extra flossing will defend against dementia, adding that catchphrases like “Brush your teeth: Prevent Alzheimer’s disease,” are excessively naive. Periodontal disease should instead be seen as an indication of exposure to inflammation, which in turn can proceed to harm brain tissue and cause dementia, Gatz said.
For more information about Alzheimer’s:
Definitive treatment for periodontal disease involves a multi-faceted approach to control chronic inflammation. Putting periodontal disease into remission and ending the chronic inflammation associated with it is not achieved by merely removing tartar, the repetative use of antibiotics (either locally or systemically), or cutting out pockets with a laser or traditional periodontal surgery. Chronic hyper-inflammation is a host response problem and may require the addition of safe and effective anti-inflammatory medications.