Gum Disease May Cause Alzheimer’s


Alzheimer's disease

For years gum disease has been linked to serious health conditions such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s. Until recently, at least in the case of Alzheimer’s, it was unknown if gum disease was the cause or effect of the brain disease. A new study published in the peer-reviewed journal Science Advances indicates there is evidence that proves gum disease may actually cause Alzheimer’s.

How does gum disease cause Alzheimer’s?

Breakthrough studies in 1984 and 2014 discovered a link between Alzheimer’s and gum disease by finding that not only did those at age 70 with gum disease experience reduced cognitive function, but also the bacteria P. gingivalis (the bacteria commonly associated with gum disease) was present in the brain samples of those living with Alzheimer’s but not in the brain samples of those living without the disease.

Latest Research Demonstrates Even Stronger Link

A new 2019 study has taken this finding a step further to prove that P. gingivalis may actually cause Alzheimer’s. Previous studies focused on proteins associated with Alzheimer’s, but the new study found that perhaps more important are toxic enzymes called gingipains. Gingipains are what P. gingivalis uses to feed on human tissue, and these enzymes were found in 96% of the Alzheimer’s brain samples that were tested. Additionally, the bacteria and its enzymes were found at greater concentrations in those who experienced worse cognitive decline.

When the team gave mice gum disease using the P. gingivalis bacteria, the mice developed certain proteins and neural damage in their brains that are associated with Alzheimer’s. Then, when given molecules that block gingipains, the mice experienced a halt and partial reversal of Alzheimer’s symptoms.



Is gum disease treatable?

The short answer is yes!

Treatment often consists of multiple techniques, beginning with a consultation with Dr. Caffaratti, Dr. Doucette or Dr. Besso to understand the state of your gums and determine the level of disease. Typically treatment begins with professional cleanings called debridement coupled with scaling. This process uses laser treatment to remove the bacteria that exist below the gum line.

After the debridement and scaling, you are given the PerioProtect at-home treatment system to fight daily bacteria growth. It is designed to continually fight gum disease by attacking the quickly growing bacteria as it begins under the gums. Since brushing and flossing cannot reach the growing bacteria, it is important to use this treatment system on a daily basis for long-term success. Keeping gums healthy will go a long way in maintaining your oral health and limiting tooth and bone loss.

Within days of beginning this treatment, patients report noticeable differences in the health of their gums. Bleeding is lessened, swollen and red gums noticeably diminish and teeth are less sensitive, while enjoying fresher breath and whiter teeth.

How can I prevent Alzheimer’s?

Although not yet proven to guarantee a life free of Alzheimer’s, prevention and treatment of gum disease are important first steps. Caffaratti Dental Group offers regular cleanings to prevent gum disease and additional treatment options for existing gum disease, improving your odds against Alzheimer’s.

Call us today at (775) 358-1555 to schedule your consultation, and be well on your way to a healthier smile and mind!