Not taking care of your teeth can lead to more than just gum disease, cavities and bad breath. Studies show gum disease is linked to serious health conditions like Alzheimer’s, heart disease and pancreatic cancer.

Two of the three gum-disease causing bacteria are capable of moving from the mouth to brain tissue and into the blood stream, allowing them to wreak further havoc on your body by leading to additional illnesses.


Multiple studies have linked gum disease with Alzheimer’s dating back to 1984. The original study followed a group of people from the time they were 50 years old until they turned 70. Researchers found that gum disease at age 70 was strongly associated with reduced cognitive function.

“Study participants were nine times more likely to have a score in the lower range of the cognitive test – the “digit symbol test” (DST) – if they had inflammation of the gums.”1

Another study built upon these results in 2014 by comparing the brain samples of 10 subjects living with Alzheimer’s with those of 10 subjects living without the disease.

“Analysis showed that a bacterium – Porphyromonas gingivalis – was present in the Alzheimer’s brain samples but not in the samples from the brains of people who did not have Alzheimer’s. What was interesting was that P. gingivalis is usually associated with chronic gum disease.”1

It’s been said that Alzheimer’s is genetic, so how could it be linked to a seemingly preventable illness like gum disease? A 2016 study2 by researchers at Columbia University College of Dental Medicine has found 41 genes that may cause gum disease. So while there may be genes that inherently lead to Alzheimer’s, it’s also possible that the gum disease genes – for reasons described above – increase your risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

Worried about the possibility of gum disease and its affects on your overall health? Call our office today at (775) 358-1555 to schedule a consultation.

This post is part of a three-part series exploring the link between gum disease and serious health conditions. Check back next month for information linking gum disease to heart disease.