Scientists believe that there may be a link between gum disease and dementia in old age following the results of a new study.
The results of the study, conducted in Taiwan with 28,000 people, suggests that gum disease sufferers are 70% more likely to get dementia. Scientists believe that this is because mouth problems over many years can cause inflammation that could damage the brain.
However, although dental health is incredibly important, the scientists behind the study have not been able to definitively prove that gum disease is a direct cause of Alzheimer’s.
Thorough and consistent tooth-brushing is always recommended, and any dental issues or concerns should be discussed immediately with your dentist, by the Alzheimer’s Society say that the new study is, “not necessarily a cause for alarm.”
Dr James Pickett, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Society said: “This large study found that having gum disease for 10 years was associated with a 70% increased risk for developing dementia. While this sounds like a big risk, only about one in 100 people with gum disease went on to develop dementia, showing that this figure is not necessarily a cause for alarm.
“An issue found in the study was that gum disease seems to be associated with a number of other health conditions which themselves could be linked to dementia risk, such as diabetes and depression. While the researchers tried to account for these, it remains hard to tell whether gum disease itself is related to dementia risk.
“Although at first it does not seem obvious that gum disease could be linked to brain health, it is plausible that an immune reaction triggered by the gum disease could make its way to the brain and contribute to the development of dementia.
“This study supports the need for good dentistry and treating oral problems early. Anyone who is concerned about their dental health should visit their dentist.”