Could getting your teeth cleaned regularly prevent Alzheimer’s disease? There are, of course, no guarantees, but there has been significant research concluding that healthy gums means less inflammation in the body, which in turn lowers our chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Therefore, it does seem wise to consider good oral hygiene part of your healthy lifestyle.
Recently, I happened upon an article by Jaklin Bezik, DDS, MDS explaining the connection between periodontal disease and Alzheimer’s. His article states that periodontal inflammation is associated with inflammation in the brain that is thought to increase the risk for cognitive dysfunctions linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
Reading Bezik’s article reminded me of a press release about a large study by New York University:
NYU dental researchers have found the first long-term evidence that periodontal (gum) disease may increase the risk of cognitive dysfunction associated with Alzheimer's disease in healthy individuals as well as in those who already are cognitively impaired…The research team, led by Dr. Angela Kamer, Assistant Professor of Periodontology & Implant Dentistry, examined 20 years of data that support the hypothesis of a possible causal link between periodontal disease and Alzheimer's disease.
Kamer’s study was conducted in collaboration with Dr. Douglas E. Morse, Associate Professor of Epidemiology & Health Promotion at NYU College of Dentistry, and a team of researchers in Denmark. This study builds upon information from a 2008 study by Dr. Kamer which found that people with Alzheimer's disease had a significantly higher level of antibodies and inflammatory molecules associated with periodontal disease in their blood plasma than their healthy counterparts.
As far back as 2005, the Journal of the American Dental Association reported on a study at the first Alzheimer’s Association International Conference on Prevention of Dementia held in Washington, D.C. The conclusion of the study was that exposure to inflammation early in life quadruples one’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
We’ve read the results of numerous studies showing that a healthy lifestyle including a Mediterranean based diet plus exercise, mental stimulation and a satisfying social life all can support and enhance healthy aging. A significant part of healthy aging, of course, includes avoiding – or at least putting off – the development of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia. Existing evidence seems strong that it’s worth the time and money to have our teeth professionally cleaned according to the schedule prescribed by our dentist for the sake of our overall health as well as our cognitive functioning. A small investment with a potentially enormous payoff.
Bezik, J. (2012, December 10) The Link Between Gum Disease and Alzheimer’s. Retrieved from http://www.dentistinfairfaxva.com/2012/12/16/the-link-between-gum-disease-and-alzheimers/
Science News (2010, August 4) Gum Inflammation Linked to Alzheimer's Disease. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100803112811.htm
New York University (2010, August 3) New Evidence from NYU College of Dentistry Supports Link between Gum Inflammation and Alzheimer’s Disease. Retrieved from http://www.nyu.edu/about/news-publications/news/2010/08/03/new-evidence-supports-link-between-gum-inflammation-and-alzheimers.html
Watts, A. et. al. (2008, October) Inflammation as a potential mediator for the association between periodontal disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2626915/
American Dental Association (2005, August) Inflammation Linked to Alzheimer’s Disease. Retrieved from http://jada.ada.org/content/136/8/1084.2.full
Published On: July 18, 2013