According to a recent study, gum disease has extensive impacts and may raise your risk of developing dementia.
A 21% higher chance of dementia and a 23% higher risk of milder cognitive impairment were linked to tooth loss, large pockets around teeth in the gums, or bone loss in the tooth sockets, according to an analysis of 47 previously published papers by researchers in Finland.
According to the study, tooth loss alone, a sign of periodontal or gum disease, was associated with a 23% higher chance of cognitive (mental) impairment and a 13% higher risk of dementia.
Sam Asher, director of the Institute of Dentistry at the University of Eastern Finland in Kuopio, is the study’s lead author. “Maintaining adequate periodontal health, including retention of healthy natural teeth, seems to be important also in the context of preventing cognitive decline and dementia,” he said.
Asher cited the study’s inability to establish a causal link between gum disease and dementia. Nevertheless, he added, periodontal disease prevention and treatment are particularly crucial in older persons who have a higher risk of developing dementia.
According to Asher, “Our findings further highlight the need of oral health care in individuals who already have some degree of cognitive impairment or dementia, as these individuals frequently experience challenges with maintaining dental hygiene and utilising professional oral health services.”
Dentists should pay attention, he continued. According to Asher, “oral health providers need to be particularly mindful of early changes in oral hygiene and periodontal health that frequently emerge at older ages related to cognitive loss.”
According to the researchers’ background notes, periodontitis, or gum inflammation, affects 10% to 15% of adults worldwide. It can cause tooth loss in extreme circumstances, and past studies have connected it to diabetes and heart problems.
Asher continued, “Future research has to concentrate on delivering higher-quality evidence to assist both the general public and dental health care providers with more specialised oral health care measures to prevent dementia.”
The Mount Sinai Center for Cognitive Health’s director, Dr. Sam Gandy, stated that there is mounting evidence linking systemic inflammation and brain inflammation.
According to Gandy, who was not involved in the study, periodontal disease, systemic viral infections like herpes, COVID-19, and inflammatory bowel syndrome, among others, are capable of causing brain inflammation.
We still know relatively little about the molecular underpinnings of how systemic inflammation exacerbates brain inflammation, he continued. “These connections do not necessarily necessitate direct invasion of the brain by germs.
This area of research is yet unclear. A recent experiment found that treating gum disease in Alzheimer’s patients had no effect on their state but did have an impact on markers associated with the disease, according to Gandy.
There is still no acceptable substitute for the large, protracted, expensive, randomised clinical trials in which real therapeutic benefit can be shown, he added. “This sort of outcome, taken together, raises the prospect that biomarkers may, at least under some situations, be misleading.
According to Dr. Jeremy Koppel, a geriatric psychiatrist and co-director of the Northwell Health Litwin-Zucker Alzheimer’s Illness Research Center in Manhasset, New York, this study cannot demonstrate that inflammation brought on by dental disease causes dementia.
Without participating in the study, Koppel said, “You don’t know if they have Alzheimer’s because they have periodontal disease or if they have periodontal disease because they have Alzheimer’s.”
He pointed out that the study’s findings showed a very minimal risk of dementia caused by periodontal disease. When compared to recognised hazards for the condition, the risk “may be very much neutral,” Koppel said. The study found that smoking and a poor diet are two of these factors.
Koppel does not downplay the significance of oral health in relation to Alzheimer’s disease. He claimed that studies are being conducted on saliva to learn more about the health of the brain.
People are interested in looking for biomarkers of the brain proteins linked to Alzheimer’s disease in saliva, according to Koppel.
Additionally, he stated that anti-inflammatory medicines are already being used to treat Alzheimer’s.
He continued, “However, whether the mouth may hold other mysteries hasn’t truly been studied.
The study was released online in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society on September 8.
Visit the US for more information on dementia. State Institute on Aging.
Sam Gandy, MD, PhD, director of the Mount Sinai Center for Cognitive Health in New York City; Jeremy Koppel, MD, geriatric psychiatrist and co-director of the Northwell Health Litwin-Zucker Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center; Sam Asher, MPH, Institute of Dentistry, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio; Journal of the American Geriatrics Society,
Sept. 8, 2022, online