Why gum disease increases dementia risk

  • A very large Korean study found older adults with chronic periodontitis had a 6% higher risk for dementia.
  • Two animal studies found that the bacteria involved in gum disease increases amyloid-beta, brain inflammation, and neuron death.

Periodontitis raises dementia risk

A 10-year South Korean study using data from 262,349 older adults (50+) has found that those with chronic periodontitis had a 6% higher risk for dementia than did people without periodontitis. This connection was true despite behaviors such as smoking, consuming alcohol, and remaining physically active.

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-03/ags-pmr031519.php

Gum disease link to Alzheimer's explained

Gum disease has been linked to Alzheimer's as a risk factor, and now an animal study provides evidence that Porphyromonas gingivalis (Pg), the bacterium associated with chronic gum disease, colonizes the brain and increases production of amyloid beta.

Moreover, the bacterium's toxic enzymes (gingipains) have been found in the neurons of patients with Alzheimer’s. Gingipain levels were associated with two markers: tau, and ubiquitin (a protein tag that marks damaged proteins).

When molecule therapies targeting Pg gingipains were applied, there was reduced bacterial load of an established Pg brain infection, blocked amyloid-beta production, reduced neuroinflammation and protected neurons in the hippocampus.

Around half the population are said to have this bacteria in some form, and around 10% of those with the bacteria will develop serious gum disease, loose teeth, and have an increased risk of developing Alzheimer´s disease.

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-01/uol-nsd012319.php

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-06/tuob-byt060319.php

Mouse study links periodontal disease bacteria to greater amyloid plaques, brain inflammation, neuron death

A mouse study found that long-term exposure to periodontal disease bacteria resulted in significantly higher amounts of amyloid beta plaque, more brain inflammation and fewer intact neurons. It’s important to note that the mice used in the study were not genetically engineered to develop Alzheimer's.

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-10/uoia-pdb100318.php

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