Periodontal Inflammation May Be Linked to Alzheimer's Risk

Exposure to inflammation early in life from ailments such as chronic periodontal disease quadruples an individual's risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, researchers reported at the first Alzheimer's Association International Conference on Prevention of Dementia.

The research team sifted through data on the 20,000 participants in the Swedish Twin Registry and found 109 "discordant" pairs of twins in which only one twin had been diagnosed with dementia.

Previous studies have shown that Alzheimer's disease is strongly genetic; if one twin has the disease, his or her identical twin has a 60 percent chance of developing it.

Information about participants' education, activities and health histories came from surveys they completed in the 1960s, when the registry was created, as well as from hospital discharge records. The surveys included questions about loose or missing teeth. Researchers used the answers to the dental-related questions to build a crude indicator of periodontal disease.

They concluded that an inflammatory burden early in life, as represented by chronic periodontal disease, might have severe consequences later.

"If what we’re indexing with periodontal disease is some kind of inflammatory burden, then it is probably speaking to general health conditions," said lead researcher Dr. Margaret Gatz from the University of Southern California.

If the link between inflammation and periodontal disease is confirmed, researchers said it would add inflammatory burden to the short list of preventable risk factors for Alzheimer's disease.

© 2017 American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.

More Articles You May Like

Common Conditions For ADULTS 55+

  • Gum disease
    This potentially serious condition occurs when the gum tissues surrounding teeth become infected because of a buildup of plaque on the teeth and gums. Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease and is recognizable by swollen, red or bleeding gums. Gum disease is a concern for older adults for a number of reasons, including plaque building up on teeth and gums from not developing proper oral health care habits earlier in life.

  • Tooth or root decay
    Even at 55-plus years, adults can still develop tooth or root decay if gum recession has occurred. It is important for older adults to effectively clean the gums, the teeth and exposed root surfaces to remove dental plaque and food debris.

  • Sensitive teeth
    At some point, we've all tossed back a nice, cold glass of water only to grimace at that sharp, tingling sensation in our teeth. A number of factors cause tooth sensitivity, including brushing too aggressively with a hard-bristled toothbrush, worn tooth enamel, and a cracked or fractured tooth.

Help your mouth age gracefully

Taking care of your mouth is still as important as ever. Try one of our products to help keep smiles healthy at any age.