Gum disease raises risk of developing Alzheimer's disease by 70%, study finds
8 September 2017
People who have suffered from gum disease for ten years or longer are 70% more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease, a new study has discovered.
The research, published in Alzheimer's Research & Therapy, looked at more than 25,000 people to examine whether patients age 50 or older with severe gum disease - also called 'chronic periodontitis' - had an increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease¹.
Although they did not determine any direct casual link between the two diseases, they did discover that people who suffered from long standing gum disease, of ten years or more, were up to 70% more likely to then develop Alzheimer's disease.
Leading UK health charity, the Oral Health Foundation, has long recognised close links between poor oral health and general health and believes that by paying closer attention to our mouth we will be able to maintain better overall health later in life.
Dr Nigel Carter OBE, CEO of the Oral Health Foundation, spoke on the implications of this research: "The links between oral health and diseases which effect other parts of our body are becoming increasingly apparent with every new piece of research. Studies such as this can be hugely significant in helping us to understand how we can maybe help reduce our risk of developing different diseases and as a result, improve the lives of millions of people in the future.
"The good news is gum disease is an entirely preventable and treatable disease, by ensuring good, consistent, oral health everybody can avoid gum disease and its associated risks.
"Avoiding gum disease can be as simple as brushing your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, using interdental brushes daily and regular visits to the dentist.
"While gum disease can be treated very effectively, the best approach is certainly prevention and making sure we do not fall foul of it at all.
"We welcome more research on this topic, as a greater understanding could be a game-changer in helping more people avoid Alzheimer's disease."
Gum disease is a swelling, soreness or infection of the tissues supporting teeth. There are two main forms of gum disease: gingivitis and periodontal disease.
As the disease gets worse the bone anchoring the teeth in the jaw can be lost, making the teeth loose. If this is not treated, the teeth may eventually fall out.
Treating gum disease can be done by your dental team who will remove all plaque and tartar from your teeth. They will also show you how to remove plaque successfully yourself, cleaning all the surfaces of your teeth thoroughly and effectively.
Research has also linked heart disease, strokes, low-weight and pre-term births, to gum disease.
Anybody wishing to find out more about gum disease, or any other aspect of their oral health, can contact the Oral Health Foundation's Dental Helpline. The Dental Helpline is staffed by fully qualified dental professionals and gives free, impartial and expert advice on all matters pertaining to oral health.
¹Chang-Kai Chen (2017) 'Association between chronic periodontitis and the risk of Alzheimer's disease: a retrospective, population-based, matched-cohort study', Alzheimer's Research & Therapy, 9:56 https://doi.org/10.1186/s13195-017-0282-6
Source: The Oral Health Foundation
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