We have known for a long time that health risks associated with oral health can affect your overall health.
Increasingly, researchers are investing the link between gum disease and specific health issues, some of which become manifested later in life.
Researchers in the United Kingdom have found that people with poor oral hygiene or gum disease could be at higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s, compared with those who have healthy teeth.
The researchers, from The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) School of Medicine and Dentistry, discovered the presence of a bacterium called Porphyromonas Gingivalis in the brains of patients who had dementia when they were alive. The bacteria are usually associated with chronic periodontal (gum) disease.
Similarly, New York University performed a study in 2010, revealing long-term evidence that linked gum inflammation and cognitive dysfunction often associated with Alzheimer's. In this study, researchers looked at the cognitive function of people at ages 50 and 70 using the Digit Symbol Test (DST), a part of the standard measurement of adult IQ. They found that cognitively normal subjects with periodontal inflammation were at an increased risk of lower cognitive function at age 70, compared to cognitively normal subjects with little or no periodontal inflammation. This strong association held true even in those subjects who had other DST risk factors, such as obesity, cigarette smoking, and tooth loss unrelated to gum inflammation, and also in those subjects who already had a low DST score at age 50.
Studies are ongoing, so hopefully more will be discovered about this relationship over time. In the meantime, these studies reinforce the importance of good oral care to preserve overall health.
UCLan Research Details
NYU Research Details
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