The link between gum disease and other serious maladies is becoming clearer. From cancer to diabetes complications, the importance of overall dental health cannot be overstated. And now a new study is strengthening the link between Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
According to a new study conducted at the University of Taiwan, those suffering from long-term gum disease are 70% more likely to develop dementia. Affecting an estimated 5.5 million Americans, and costing upwards of 1.5 billion dollars yearly, preventing dementia and dementia-like symptoms is incredibly important.
Long-term Gum Disease Correlated With Dementia
The recent peer-reviewed study followed 28,000 patients over the course of ten years. Researchers found that out of 9,300 patients diagnosed with chronic or long-term gum disease, 70% were more likely to develop dementia. These results tested against a control group of 18,000.
Other findings also suggested that those with poor gum health were at a higher risk for high blood pressure and depression.
What’s the Connection?
According to Chang-Kai Chen, one of the authors of the study, “This finding supports the notion that pro-inflammatory factors due to [gum disease] may slowly and progressively induce neurodegenerative changes that lead to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.”
Gum disease is caused by a buildup of troublesome bacteria between the teeth and gums, and while the connection between brain health and oral health isn’t immediately obvious, gum disease can cause an immune system response such as inflammation that damages brain cells.
This inflammatory response is also potentially the reason why gum disease contributes to the risk of cancer and prostate problems. It’s also the reason why taking steps like eating an anti-inflammatory diet may help control the impact of the gum disease.
How Accurate Is the Link?
The study, published in the Alzheimer’s Research & Therapy, has been subjected to peer-review panels scrutinizing its methodology and results. However, the link between dementia and gum disease has only been proven to have a correlated relationship. What we know currently is limited.
But other mounting data connecting the health of our mouths to the rest of our body is clear, and shows a strong link between gum disease and other diseases of the body. From these results, it’s safe to say that one of the most important things we can do for ourselves is practice good oral hygiene and see a dentist regularly.