Clive Holmes of the University of South Hampton in the United Kingdom recently conducted a study regarding the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. In this new study it was acknowledged that gum disease is tied to a faster cognitive decline.


Gum disease, known medically as periodontal disease, is the inflammation around the gums of the teeth. The gums begin to pull away from the teeth creating pockets that become infected. Plaque and bacteria begin to grow and spread below the gum line. The body begins to protect itself to fight against the harmful bacteria and plaque. The body’s natural response to combat the infection is to break down the bone and connective tissue that holds the teeth in place. If left untreated, the bones, bums and tissue that support the teeth are destroyed. The result would be loose teeth or teeth that fall out.


The Holmes study observed 60 people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s. These people remained in their own homes. None of the participants smoked and had not been treated for gum disease prior to the study. After being examined by a dental hygienist at the beginning of the study, it was determined that 22 of the 60 had moderate to severe gum disease.


At the six month follow up the cognitive score declined more for the people who had gum disease than those that did not. Cognitive testing is routinely done, among other forms of testing, to determine whether someone has Alzheimer’s but the degree to which it is progressing.


One theory is that “cognitive impairment leads to adverse oral health due to inattention to routine oral hygiene and care.” This means that the person’s ability to think has declined and what was once routine is no longer standard practice.


Since periodontal disease has been associated with heart disease and stroke too, it is imperative that as we get older we all continue to practice good oral hygiene.


The article in support of this post can be found HERE.


Renee Boston is a Maryland medical malpractice attorney who helps people navigate the Maryland childbirth injury and medical malpractice process to get money for their injuries caused by the carelessness of doctors and hospitals.