Almost everyone has heard that your dental health is also tied to the health of you heart. But did you know that your dental health can also affect your mental health? Crazy as it may seem, but researchers are finding links between chronic periodontal disease and Alzheimer’s disease.The culprit? Porphyromonas gingivalis, the prevalent microbe that causes gum disease.
It is not just people with Alzheimer’s disease that are impacted by Porphyromonas gingivalis. Researchers at NYU found that gum inflammation may contribute to inflammation of the brain which then can lead to neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Dr. Kamer’s study, conducted in collaboration with Dr. Douglas E. Morse, Associate Professor of Epidemiology & Health Promotion at NYU College of Dentistry, and a team of researchers in Denmark, builds upon a 2008 study by Dr. Kamer which found that subjects with Alzheimer’s disease had a significantly higher level of antibodies and inflammatory molecules associated with periodontal disease in their plasma compared to healthy people.
The study suggests that even people with normal cognitive health are at an increased risk of neurodegenerative diseases if the presence of periodontal inflammation is present.
Why is this a concern? Well, for starters, what if we could halt a significant portion of this disease’s sufferers by practicing good oral hygiene? Crazy sounding, yes…but several studies have proven there is a correlation between the microbe and several diseases including heart disease, kidney disorders, stroke, diabetes, and even complications in pregnancy. There are even links between Porphyromonas gingivalis and depression and anxiety disorders. For such a small organism, it sure can wreak havoc upon a person’s system.
What does this mean for you? First, seriously consider setting up an exemplary oral hygiene routine. Second, start seeing your dentist at least biannually. If you are found to have periodontal disease, you may need to see your dentist and hygienist more than twice a year (depending on severity, treatment plans can include every one, two, or three months) to treat the issue. And lastly, do not wait until the problem is so severe that your teeth are hanging by a thread. Loosing teeth presents even more issues that can impact you later in life.
 “Determining the presence of periodontopathic virulence factors in short-term postmortem Alzheimer’s disease brain tissue,” Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 2013
“Link Between Gum Inflammation and Alzheimer’s Disease Supported by New Evidence from NYUCD,” Medical News Today, 2010. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/196804.php