Periodontitis jumpstarts Alzheimer's disease through blood- brain transfer

The oral-systemic link between perio and Alzheimer’s: Are we educating our patients?

Discussing Alzheimer's risks with patients, particularly when weighing treatment for periodontitis, continues to be supported in new research.

Jamie Collins, RDH-EA

Apr 22nd, 2019

Imagine a world where we no longer fear Alzheimer’s disease (AD) as we age, or watch those we love trapped in their bodies as their minds are adversely affected. Recent studies have brought to the forefront the oral-systemic link between periodontal disease and the increased risk of developing AD. These studies provide more evidence for what we already preach to our patients—the connection between the oral inflammation process and the whole body.

For too many years, the mouth has been considered unrelated to the rest of the body in the eyes of the general public, and many times by the medical profession. We’ve all had patients tell us that changes in their medical history or medications don’t matter because they don’t have anything to do with their mouths. A lack of education on health connections could have detrimental effects for our patients. With more and more evidence coming out each year to establish the correlation between the mouth and systemic illnesses, we should be educating our patients on the link of periodontal disease pathogens and other inflammatory body responses.


The oral-systemic link

A study at Chung Shan Medical University concluded that individuals who had periodontal disease for more than 10 years were at a 70% higher risk of developing AD than their peers without periodontal disease. (1) The study additionally accounts for other factors associated with Alzheimer’s, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and environmental factors.

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