23 Aug

New study suggests gum disease could increase dementia risk by up to 70%

shutterstock_344282432A new study suggests that gum disease increases the risk of dementia developing by up to 70 percent.
The findings of a study that involved 28,000 people show that those who take good care of their teeth and gums have a much lower risk of suffering from dementia than those with oral health issues, most notably advanced gum disease.
Researchers have already established a strong link between heart disease and gum disease. Now a Taiwanese study has suggested that periodontal disease could be a significant risk factor for dementia. Researchers analysed data from 9,300 patients who had been diagnosed with advanced gum disease and compared this to information from an additional 18,700 people who had not been diagnosed with gum disease. The team found that those who suffered from gum disease for more than 10 years had a much greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. After 10 years, it was found that 115 people from the group with gum disease had dementia compared to 208 who didn’t have gum disease, but rates were up to 70 percent higher in those who had long-term gum disease.
The research team, from Chung Shan Medical University, Taichung, suggested that the findings of the study indicate that inflammatory factors related to gum disease can trigger “neurodegenerative changes”, which elevate Alzheimer’s risk. The team has now called for further research in this area.
Head of research at the Alzheimer’s Society, James Pickett, said that to many, it wouldn’t seem obvious that gum disease could be linked to dementia, but research suggests that immune reactions associated with periodontal disease could affect the brain.