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Is Periodontal Disease Connected to Alzheimer’s?

May 09, 2019 | Periodontal Disease | The Office of Palisades Dentists

Periodontal disease, also known as periodontitis, is associated with accumulation of the bacteria P. gingivalis in the affected areas of the mouth. In a 2019 study published in Science Advances, researchers discovered evidence that may suggest a connection between periodontal disease and Alzheimer’s. After examining the spinal fluid, saliva, and brain tissue of individuals afflicted with Alzheimer’s, they discovered high levels of P. gingivalis in nearly all of the patients. While maintaining optimal oral health and adopting proper dental hygiene practices is essential for everyone, it could be particularly important for those at risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

conceptual image showing blurred brain with loss of neuronal network-img-blog

What Causes Alzheimer’s?

Scientists are still unsure what exactly causes Alzheimer’s, but there seems to be a link between this disease and specific factors, such as:

  • MCI (mild cognitive impairment): Those with MCI experience a decline in memory or other cognitive functions. These patients are more likely to develop both dementia and Alzheimer’s due to the effects of MCI on brain activity.
  • Genetics: While there is no certainty as to how genetics play a role in susceptibility to Alzheimer’s, many cases of this condition occur within the same families. It is also common for those with Down’s syndrome to develop the disease, which could be attributed to having three of chromosome 21.
  • Lifestyle: Because Alzheimer’s may be linked to cardiovascular health, certain choices such as smoking, obesity, lack of exercise, high cholesterol, poor oral hygiene, and untreated type 2 diabetes may increase a person’s risk of developing this disease.

What Can I Do to Prevent Alzheimer’s?

As of now, there is no surefire way to prevent Alzheimer’s. However, leading a healthy, active lifestyle and consuming a balanced diet can help. It is also crucial to schedule regular dental exams with your dentist to check for signs of periodontal disease and treat any existing oral conditions. Patients should contact their doctor if they encounter the following symptoms:

  • Persistent memory loss
  • Difficulty concentrating or multitasking
  • Significant changes in mood or behavior

To learn more about how to prevent or treat periodontal disease, or to schedule a dental exam, please contact The Palisades Dentists by calling 310.459.2303.