Currently, there are more than 5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease. That number could more than triple by 2050 to 16 million as well. As millions of Americans struggle with Alzheimer’s, nearly half (47.2) of adults over the age of 30 years old have some sort of periodontal disease, too. Thanks to recent studies in both the memory care and dental communities, however, there is evidence that these two health issues are closely related.
According to Express, periodontal disease is a regular occurrence in Alzheimer’s patients and has recently been shown to cause a greater cognitive decline in people with early stage Alzheimer’s.
Researchers from the University of Southampton and King’s College London have linked he gum issues to dementia. The study found that the presence of periodontal disease was associated with a six times increase in the rate of cognitive decline in study participants over a six month period.
“These are very interesting results which build on previous work we have done that shows that chronic inflammatory conditions have a detrimental effect on disease progression in people with Alzheimer’s disease,” said professor Clive Holmes, University of Southampton senior author. “Our study was small and lasted for six months so further trials need to be carried out to develop these results. However, if there is a direct relationship between periodontitis and cognitive decline, as this current study suggests, then treatment of gum disease might be a possible treatment option for Alzheimer’s.”
Colgate Oral Care Center reports that another linked the two diseases together as well. Researchers from the University of Central Lancashire School of Medicine and Dentistry, led my Dr. St. John Crean and Dr. Sim K. Singhrao published the study in the journal of Alzheimer’s Disease in early May.
“This new research indicates a possible association between gum disease and individuals who may be susceptible to developing Alzheimer’s disease, if exposed to the appropriate trigger,” added Dr. Clean, dean at the School of Medicine and Dentistry.
In addition to getting the struggling elder in to see a periodontist to prevent serious gum disease, caregivers should help Alzheimer’s patients tackle large projects in bits and pieces by compartmentalizing. When spring cleaning, for instance, having the Alzheimer’s patient create a more manageable task is essential so they remain calm and prevent a frustration episode. Marking each task with a specific time frame (10 minutes, 30 minutes, etc.) can help keep Alzheimer’s patients on track during their specific project.
For more information on how gum disease may affect both oral and mental health, or how to help with a struggling Alzheimer’s patient, consult with a medical professional.