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What Does Gum Disease Have to do With Dementia?

  • September 14, 2018

It is estimated that 5.7 million Americans of all ages are living with Alzheimer’s disease in 2018, and the question of whether it can be prevented routinely fuels new research.

September is World Alzheimer’s Month, and Sept. 21 is World Alzheimer’s Day. In honor of these health observations, we’re sharing information on an Alzheimer’s connection that is near and dear to us here at the Lanap & Implant Center of Pennsylvania: gum disease and dementia.

In 2017, research out of Taiwan identified an association between periodontitis and increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Chronic periodontitis is inflammation of your gum tissues caused by large amounts of dental plaque accumulation. Over time, it destroys the gum tissue and bone that secures your teeth in place.

A team from Chung Shan Medical University in Taichung City looked at data on patients who were age 50 or older with chronic periodontitis. Although they found no overall connection between periodontitis and Alzheimer’s, they found that people who had periodontitis for a decade or longer “were 70 percent more likely than people without periodontitis to develop Alzheimer’s disease,” Reuters reported. 

Even after researchers adjusting for other factors such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and urban environment that might influence Alzheimer’s development, the link between long-term periodontitis and the degenerative brain disease remained, according to the Reuters article.

“This information sheds light on the importance of identifying gum disease in its earliest stages and getting it under control,” Dr. David DiGiallorenzo says.

The first stage of gum disease – gingivitis – is reversible simply by maintaining a good home oral care routine and getting your teeth professionally cleaned at your dentist’s or periodontist’s office at least twice annually.

“Once you have periodontitis, it has irreversibly harmed your bone and connective tissue,” says Dr. Henry Hsu. “However, it can be managed successfully, and we have a variety of treatment options to help you preserve your remaining healthy gum tissue and save your teeth.”

The final stage of periodontal disease is advanced periodontitis. At this point, the fibers and bone that support your teeth are destroyed, which can cause teeth to shift or loosen, according to Colgate.com.

Treating Gum Disease

An effective way of treating gum disease is with the LANAP procedure. The acronym stands for “laser-assisted new attachment procedure,” and it requires no cutting, no sutures, and it is virtually painless.

Dr. DiGiallorenzo and Dr. Hsu use the laser to target and remove the diseased tissue and avoid harming healthy tissue. The laser eliminates the harmful toxins that destroy gum tissue and bone, and then forms a clot to promote new attachment of the gum to a tooth’s root surfaces.

Schedule an Appointment

Do all you can to help keep your gums – and, in turn, your brain – healthy by getting a periodontal checkup. Please call our office to schedule a consultation to learn more about our methods of treating gum disease.

About World Alzheimer’s Month

Alzheimer’s Disease International launched World Alzheimer’s Month in 2012 to increase awareness and challenge the stigma that surrounds dementia. In addition to September being recognized as World Alzheimer’s Month, World Alzheimer’s Day is observed on Sept. 21 each year.