You hated going to the dentist, like most of us. If that feeling was so strong that you skipped your regular cleanings and ended up with a receding gum line and bleeding gums, you've got periodontal disease. And that may not be all....
Link between gum disease and Alzheimers: © Healthwise Inc; image via revolutionhealth.com
In the first long-term study of the association of gum disease with increased risk of Alzheimer's, New York University (NYU) dental researchers found that gum inflammation can lead to brain inflammation, neurodegeneration, and Alzheimer's disease in otherwise (brain) healthy persons. Additionally, the presence of gum disease in persons already experiencing cognitive decline can worsen that decline.
These conclusions were drawn by NYU's Dr. Angela Kamer, Assistant Professor of Periodontology and Implant Dentistry, and her team, after examining 20 years of data from the Glostrog Aging Study which gathered medical, psychological, oral health, and social data on Danish men and women. The Digit Symbol Substitution Test, known as DSST, was used to measure cognitive abilities at ages 50 and 70.
In 2008, Dr. Kamer found that Alzheimer's patients had significantly higher amount of antibodies and inflammatory molecules associated with periodontal disease in their plasma than subjects who did not have cognitive impairments.
The research group's next study will involve a larger, more ethnically diverse group of subjects. But don't wait to get the results of that. Isn't now the time you should make that dental appointment?
For more information about this study, see NYU Research News & Information.