Can Poor Dental Health Lead to Dementia?

As part of our focus on Alzheimer's awareness this month, Dr. Powell and Dr. Tiller wanted to share a study showing a possible link between dental health and Alzheimer's Disease.  It is a small and early study which showed a link but much additional research would be needed to discover whether one caused the other or was the result on the other.

Researchers at the University of Central Lancashire School of Medicine and Dentistry conducted a small study which looked at donated brain samples in order to further investigate suggested links between oral health and dementia. Half of the brains were from people who had dementia while the other half of the brain samples were from people with no known dementia.

Researches noted the presence of P. gingivalis, a known bacteria in gum disease in 40% of the brain samples of the dementia patients and none in those without.  Dr. Sim Singhrao, PhD a senior research fellow at the university noted that it is possible that "when the brain is repeatedly exposed to bacteria from our gums, subsequent immune responses may lead to nerve cell death and possibly memory loss."  She points out that this could mean that regular visits to the dentist could be essential for brain health according to an interview by Tim Locke.

There is currently on-going research into a link between dementia and inflammation caused by many factors including poor dental health.  Dr. Simon Ridley, PhD, of the Alzheimer's Research UK pointed out that we do not know whether the presence of the bacteria could contribute to dementia or whether perhaps people with dementia are more likely to develop gum disease due to lack of oral hygiene and regular dental care.  More studies will be needed before we have a good understanding of this possible link.

In the meantime, keeping your teeth and gums healthy is a wise idea.   If you know someone with dementia who could use your help caring for their dental health, feel free to ask us or read our blog on Alzheimer's Disease and Dental Care.

Also, don't forget that if you write a review on our office and let us know about it, we will give $5 to the Alzheimer's Association this month.

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