New research involving gum disease and Alzheimer’s disease has been published this week, and the findings are surprising. According to the study, men and women with gum disease, or periodontitis, may lose their mental thinking capacities due to Alzheimer’s at a significantly increased rate than those without gum disease. According to a News Max publication this Thursday, March 10, 2016, the research may also reveal that ongoing inflammation can lead to permanent damage in the body, while recent studies are continuing to emphasize the dangers of chronic inflammation.
With Alzheimer’s disease continuing to adversely affect many of our more elderly loved ones, from parents to aunts and uncles and grandparents, an increased focus on Alzheimer’s research has been put into motion in recent years. One new study this year is corroborating previous research that gum disease has a distinct correlation to patients that also suffer from Alzheimer’s, and that their mental deterioration or decline is often increased as a result.
Periodontitis, or inflammation of the gums, is one such form of “chronic bodily inflammation [that] leads to damage throughout the body,” notes the report. It makes sense that gum disease is more prevalent in the elderly due to Alzheimer’s negatively affecting their ability to take care of themselves—including their oral hygiene—with the advancement of the disease. Many men and women may forget to brush and floss their teeth at night, or even eat the same nutritional foods they might have eaten in the past.
According to BBC News this week, what is particularly interesting from the results is that the gum disease might also be linked to considerably increased speeds of cognitive failure in these patients as well. The research itself, conducted in a study by U.K. scientists, aimed to figure out whether gum disease does in fact constitute a connection to the progression of dementia and Alzheimer’s in the elderly. The dangers of periodontitis might extend, then, beyond just the gums.
It appears that the study itself took nearly 60 male and female participants with varying levels of cognitive decline due to Alzheimer’s disease. Inflammatory “markers” were recorded through an assessment of general thinking skills as well as blood samples throughout the study period. In terms of their oral hygiene, a dental hygienist was also utilized in the research to appraise the patients’ overall gum health. Results were recorded, and similar tests were conducted after a half-year period.
The findings of the experts’ study, which were published in PLOS ONE, revealed a steep decline in cognition. In fact, there was nearly a six-times loss of mental thinking ability in Alzheimer’s patients who suffered from gum disease after the six-month evaluation time than those who did not have periodontitis. Blood samples also underscored higher levels of inflammation markers in these patients’ blood.
The scientists say that further research into the correlation between gum disease and Alzheimer’s disease needs to be addressed in the future. The goal is that effective gum treatment may help slow the onset of Alzheimer’s. Although a specific cause for the cognitive decline has not yet been made, numerous studies are showing that chronic inflammation of the body may be leading to various health complications, including a higher risk for diabetes, heart disease, and even dementia. It is hopeful that answers may be discovered down the line to help prevent these mentally debilitating diseases from affecting our loved ones and their sharp, independent minds.