There is a certain connection between gum disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Oral pathogens (bad bacteria) are commonly found in the brain (in the Alzheimer’s plaques) of Alzheimer’s patients. We’re not sure (yet) why. One idea is that as Alzheimer’s Disease progresses, the chronic systemic inflammation found in the body results in the breakdown of the blood brain barrier allowing it to become leaky. And, the oral bacteria get into the brain that way. The other thought is that many of the oral bacteria involved have the ability to invade through and bore through soft-tissue membranes. And, these bacteria could lead the way in developing Alzheimer’s. Either way, these infective oral pathogens, left untreated, do cause chronic systemic inflammation…and then the argument might be more like the “chicken or the egg.” If I notice that your family history includes Alzheimer’s Disease, I want to make certain that your mouth is healthy and pay close attention that it is free from these specific bacteria (using a simple saliva test).
Chronic systemic inflammation plays a significant role in the development and the progression of Alzheimer’s Disease (29,30). Periodontal disease causes chronic systemic inflammation (15), and treatment of periodontal disease can assist in lowering and eliminating systemic inflammation (31). Gum disease bacteria can be found in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s Disease (27), and Alzheimer’s patients with gum disease have a more rapid cognitive decline than patients with a healthy mouth (28) and patients who undergo proper treatment for their gum disease.