Gum disease found to greatly increase risk of cognitive decline
(NaturalHealth365) Gum disease and bleeding gums are unpleasant conditions that could lead to more serious health problems, including cardiovascular issues, a decline in organ health and decreased immunity. But, now, there’s new evidence that unhealthy gums can lead to brain disorders like, dementia.
Don’t ignore the signs of poor health: Gum disease is an oral health issue often characterized by bleeding gums, foul breath, mouth pain, ulcers, bone loss and tooth loss. In addition, it’s been linked to accelerated cognitive decline in persons with Alzheimer’s disease.
Cognitive decline increased up to six times by gum disease, say researchers
A recent study out of the UK examined 59 participants with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease and followed 52 of them for an average of 6 months. The dental health of each subject was assessed by a dental hygienist at the beginning and end of the six month follow-up period.
Blood samples and inflammatory markers were assessed, and the subjects also underwent cognitive testing. Persons with gum disease (often referred to as periodontal disease) showed a six-fold increase in cognitive decline as well as increased inflammatory markers. The researchers concluded that there was a strong correlation between periodontal disease and rate of cognitive decline in these patients.
The study was led by Dr. Mark Ide of the UK’s Dental Institute at King’s College London. The findings were published in the journal PLOS One.
Multiple studies show link between gum disease and Alzheimer’s
Part of the reason for this link is probably because persons with dementia become less likely to exercise good oral hygiene, especially as their condition worsens. However, previous studies have linked specific bacteria types from gum disease to deterioration in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.
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A study published in 2013 in Medical News Today identified a bacteria strain called Porphyromonas gingivalis related to gum disease in the brain samples of persons afflicted with Alzheimer’s. This study and others have already established a link between gum disease and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Gum disease more common in women and the elderly
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that almost half of U.S. adults have gum disease or periodontal disease. Gum disease rates also increase with age, and an estimated 70 percent or more of adults age 65 or older have this oral health condition.
Gum disease tends to be more common in women than in men. Perhaps not surprisingly, women also tend to be more prone to Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and other cognitive diseases as they age. Some of the main risk factors contributing to gum disease are poor oral hygiene, diabetes and smoking. Periodontal disease has also been linked with a higher risk of esophageal cancer.
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