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Alzheimer’s and dementia: New research provides another good reason for maintaining good oral hygiene



Researchers studying the causes of Alzheimer’s disease have determined the amyloid and tau proteins that actually accumulate in the brain.

But Dr. Diana Kerwin, a geriatrician at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, said they still couldn’t determine what triggered this cascade and began to accumulate in brain tissue.

“So, from an infectious disease perspective, it has actually lasted for about ten years, but it’s actually done in the background,” Kerwin said. “It wasn’t until the last two to three years that a protein called gingivalase related to periodontal disease was truly identified. And it is indeed linked to amyloid accumulated in the brain.”

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Interview points

About the research

  • This started with Down syndrome patients. They noticed that patients with poor periodontal health have an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, as well as an increased risk of Down syndrome. So someone started to study this more carefully.
  • Then more observational studies of elderly patients or elderly patients will look at periodontal health because of their increased risk of Alzheimer’s. They do start to notice that when you examine patients with periodontal disease or periodontal disease, the risk of Alzheimer’s also increases.

Has gum disease occurred before or after dementia?

This is important because periodontal disease does not occur after the patient develops memory loss and dementia, and may not do well or keep up with personal care (such as personal hygiene) dementia due to memory loss or other reasons. This has happened before. Therefore, we do believe that this is more of the cause of the disease than the impact of the disease itself.

Is gum disease common in the elderly?

  • Gum disease is common in several age groups. For elderly patients, this does become more challenging, depending on whether they can get good dental care and whether they can keep up with the maintenance of their teeth.
  • Similarly, many older patients are taking drugs that can cause dry mouth, which can worsen the health of gums and oral tissues.
  • But I do think this is something that may happen to patients, even though they still have the ability to maintain their oral hygiene. It’s just that we can’t tell people how important this is.

Need further research?

  • Early evidence suggests that there seems to be a direct cause between periodontal disease and Alzheimer’s disease, but it is early and is being studied.
  • I think we can say with certainty that over time, poor gum health or periodontal disease will increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, especially if this cannot be resolved with good tooth cleaning and healthy gums. One question.
  • This is definitely a risk factor. When you look at how to keep the brain healthy, part of it may also maintain good overall health. Part of this is gum and oral hygiene.

Resources

Numerous studies link gliosis with dementia

NIH: Periodontal disease in the elderly

Harvard Health: mouth aging-and how to stay young

The interview highlights are highlighted for clarity.

Is there a tip? Email sbaker@kera.org to Sam Baker. You can follow Sam on Twitter @srbkera.

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