Understanding the Link Between Oral Health and Dementia

Understanding the Link Between Oral Health and Dementia

Oral Health and dementia

Periodontal diseases, which are generally the result of infections and inflammation of the gums and bone that surround the teeth are one of the key concerns of the dental professionals at SHDC, especially in late middle-aged people. Periodontal disease treatment for men and women aged 45 to 64 is crucial because poor oral health can lead to cognitive decline and other more serious conditions like dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.

What is Dementia? 

Dementia affects around 50 million people worldwide, and this number is expected to rise to 131.5 million by 2050.

According to international statistics, someone in the world develops dementia every three seconds.

It is a term used to describe a group of conditions in which at least two brain functions, such as memory and judgment, are impaired. The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

Some other forms of dementia include:

  • Cerebrovascular dementia 
  • Lewy body dementia 
  • Frontotemporal dementia

The Impact of Dementia on the Australian Population 

There is generally a lack of understanding of dementia in most countries around the world including Australia. 

Dementia has had a massive impact on the Australian population, which is why people need to be educated on the causes and prevention of this debilitating disease. According to statistics:

  • Dementia is the single greatest cause of disability in older Australians (aged 65 years or older) 
  • Dementia is the  third leading cause of disability burden overall
  • By 2025, the total cost of dementia is predicted to increase to more than $18.7 billion 
  • People with dementia account for 52% of all residents in residential aged care facilities

What are the Causes of Dementia? An Oral Health Connection

For many years, researchers have been trying to figure out what causes diseases that lead to cognitive decline.

Their focus has recently shifted to a new hypothesis that suggests Alzheimer’s disease, which is a form of dementia, is caused by persistent inflammation and microbial infection in the brain.

 Suspicion has fallen specifically on Porphylomonas gingivalis, the bacteria that are responsible for periodontal infection (gum disease).

 Scientists have struggled for years to prove a link between Alzheimer’s disease and periodontal disease because the two diseases have multiple risk factors that make separating causation from association difficult, including:

  • Age 
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes 
  • Alcohol 
  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Education level
  • Poor oral hygiene due to cognitive decline

The Link Between Periodontal Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease 

German researchers conducted an observational study to filter through the tangle of associations and relationships between periodontal disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

Patients who had received periodontal treatment, as well as those who had not been treated, were both included in the study. 

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was used to check for Alzheimer’s disease in all of the individuals.

The findings were that Periodontal treatment was associated with a significant reduction in loss of brain matter and had a favourable effect on Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

 This data strongly suggests that timely intervention and treatment of periodontal disease can have a significant benefit in future years.

Gum Health and General Health

How to Avoid Dental Stress and Prevent Dementia?

The link between periodontal diseases and dementia reinforces our understanding of whole-body medicine necessitating collaboration between dentists and other health care providers.

Our primary emphasis as holistic dentists is to comprehend the full-body health of our patients and to recognise that we need a holistic model of health to treat them.

We at Sydney Holistic Dental Centre advise our patients to visit their dental hygienists regularly as effective preventive medicine because there is a link between poor dental health and poor cognitive performance.

We have observed that most of our late-middle-age patients with cognitive decline had reduced saliva flow rates and poor oral hygiene.

This is why our dentists always encourage our elderly patients to maintain good oral health and hygiene, as this can help to prevent cognitive decline, which can lead to dementia.

Furthermore, dental stress, which encompasses oral infections, material biocompatibility, and potential toxicity, has been found to have a significant impact on a person’s overall health and well-being.

People with high levels of stress and poor coping skills have twice as many periodontal diseases as people with minimal stress. 

Suggested ways to control periodontal diseases:

  • Reduction of pathogens
  • Reducing Oxidative stress
  • Reducing emotional stress 
  • Maintain a healthy diet
  • Include supplements in the diet 
  • Consuming olive oil 
  • Chewable probiotic lozenges 
  • Physical plaque removal 

Although it is apparent that periodontal disease has a significant role in the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, routine dental examinations and adequate oral hygiene performed by the patient may be the cornerstone of prevention.