Inflammation, Periodontal Disease, & Alzheimer’s Disease
Studies are establishing a causal relationship between inflammation, particularly that from periodontal disease and Alzheimer’s disease. As severity increases from gingivitis to periodontitis, the risk for Alzheimer’s disease rises. A study from 2005 on dementia in identical twins suggests that exposure to inflammation early in life can actually quadruple the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. In the USC study, researchers examined data for 10,000 sets of twin enrolled in the Swedish Twin Registry. About 40 years ago, participants in the registry completed questionnaires that included detailed dental data. The USC team found 109 instances where one twin was diagnosed with dementia and the other wasn’t. Those with AD were four times more likely to have developed periodontal disease in middle age compared to their twins. A 7-year study of 100,000 people also found that dental cleanings were associated with 13% less stroke risk.
Preventing gum disease begins with brushing and flossing daily. While this may not actually prevent AD, it does reduce the inflammation that is a major risk in Alzheimer’s.
Source: Inflammation linked to Alzheimer’s disease. J Am Dent Assoc. 2005;136:1084-a