Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is an oral condition that can lead to a variety of serious health concerns when left untreated. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately half of Americans 30 years and older suffer from periodontitis, the more advanced form of gum disease. Periodontitis is known to increase one’s risk of conditions like hypertension, heart disease, and stroke, and based on more recent research, gum disease has also been linked to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
A study published in the medical journal Science Today details a connection that was found between P. gingivalis—one of the bacteria that causes gum disease—and Alzheimer’s patients. Researchers of the study evaluated patients with Alzheimer’s and found evidence of P. gingivalis in the brain. More specifically, in 96% of the 53 tissue samples that were evaluated, gingipains—a toxic enzyme produced by this type of bacteria—were detected. This adds to the growing amount of research that shows a link between gum disease and Alzheimer’s.
With gum disease being so prevalent among adults, and the number of Alzheimer’s cases expected to rise in the future, maintaining good oral health is more important than ever. While more research is needed to determine if treating gum disease helps reduce the possibility of developing Alzheimer’s, the existing link between the two conditions highlights the need to manage gum disease. By taking care of your oral health, you could potentially be protecting your brain health.