How Can Gum Disease Lead to Dementia?

Dental Patient Suffering From Dementia Caused By Gum Disease

As the field of western medicine continues to progress, so does our understanding of holistic health. We are finding more and more as the days go by that all our health systems are linked together. This is the same between our dental and cognitive health. Recently, studies showed that chronic periodontitis, commonly known as gum disease, has a likely link to dementia. But how is this the case?

Here in Largo, Florida, we work to provide the most up-to-date knowledge on advances in dental health. That is why we believe it is important to discuss this link and share good information about it.


The Links Between Gum Disease and Dementia

A study conducted by South Korea’s National Health Insurance Service-Health Screening Cohort found there is a six percent increase in patients who had gum disease to develop dementia than those who did not. This risk increases in those who have or develop Alzheimer’s disease significantly compared to those with Alzheimer’s who never had gum disease.

Six percent may not seem like a huge deal but considering that the number of people who will develop dementia will triple over the next three decades, it is important to recognize the implications of this study.

There are three different theories as to how these conditions are linked. The first is related to the bacteria that cause gum disease. This bacterium, known as Porphyomonas gingivalis, is a big driver in inflammation. This bacterium is believed to travel through the bloodstream and pass the blood-brain barrier which then leads to inflammation in and around the brain which leads to dementia. This theory is supported as the bacteria has been found present in patients’ brains who have dementia.

The second theory is similar. The bacteria mentioned causes inflammation in the gums and then leads to a state of perpetual inflammation throughout the body which causes inflammation in and around the brain.

The third possibility relates to damage sustained to the blood vessels because of gum disease. This damage leads to an increase of toxic proteins consistent with those that are proven to damage the brain in patients with dementia.


Have Those Gums Checked!

All of this is to note the high importance of having proper gum and dental care. What better person to take care of those gums than Dr. Keith Hutcinson. For over 20 years, Dr. Hutchinson has worked to provide kind and compassionate care to all who come to visit him. He has worked with patients to prevent smaller cases of gingivitis from developing into chronic periodontitis as well as working to minimize the negative impacts of gum disease.

If you have questions and are looking for an expert in gum disease, consider calling (727) 507-9090 to schedule a consultation with Keith Hutchinson, D.M.D. and team at our office in Largo, FL today! Let us help prevent your gum disease and fight against the risk of developing dementia later in life.