Sudbury Smiles Dentistry
Dr. Alan Kwong Hing

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Gum Disease Linked to developing Alzheimer's Disease

Keeping your gums healthy does not only impact how you live today.  There have been several studies done that have linked the effects of gum disease to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

How does gum disease work in the development of Alzheimer’s disease?

The bacteria that cause gum disease (inflammation in the mouth also known as periodontitis) can enter the bloodstream through the mouth by eating, chewing, and brushing your teeth. As it enters the bloodstream the bacteria is carried to other parts of the body causing inflammation. 

The researchers believe that as the bacteria enter the brain they cause an immune response that kills brain cells leading to changes in the brain, which is a symptom of  Alzheimer’s disease.

In Numbers

A study from Chung Shan Medical University in Taichung City presented the following findings: 

> People who have had gum disease for more than 10 years are 70% more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.

> People with gum disease over the age of 70 and had been living with it for a decade or more, were 70% more likely to develop Alzheimer’s.

The researchers' conclusion: “Our findings support the notion that infectious diseases associated with low-grade inflammation, such as chronic periodontitis, may play a substantial role in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease. These findings highlight the need to prevent progression of periodontal disease and promote healthcare services at the national level.”

*Note that some researchers who were not involved in any of the studies say there isn't clear enough evidence linking the two. 

 

Signs of Gum Disease & Alzheimer’s

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Signs of Alzheimer's Disease

Taken from Alzheimer Society Canada:

  • Memory loss affecting day-to-day abilities 

  • Difficulty performing familiar tasks

  • Problems with language

  • Disorientation in time and space 

  • Impaired judgment

  • Problems with abstract thinking 

  • Misplacing things 

  • Changes in mood and behaviour 

  • Changes in personality

  • Loss of initiative 

Signs of Gum Disease

Taken from The Canadian Dental Association:

  • A change in the colour of your gums

  • Gums that are red around your teeth

  • Gums that bleed every time you brush or floss

  • Bad breath that will not go away

  • A taste of metal in your mouth

  • Shiny, puffy or sore gums

  • Teeth that are sensitive for no reason


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Sources consulted:

  • https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/life-stages/oral-care-age-55-up/ada-08-gum-disease-alzheimers-disease-may-be-linked

  • https://www.alzheimers.net/gum-disease-could-lead-to-the-development-of-alzheimers/

  • http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/5/1/eaau3333

  • https://alzheimer.ca/en/Home/About-dementia/Alzheimers-disease/10-warning-signs

  • https://www.cda-adc.ca/en/oral_health/talk/complications/diseases/gum_diseases.asp

Kortney Kwong Hing