Saskatoon Dental Group is a locally owned, full-scale Saskatoon dental clinic offering general dentistry services. At Saskatoon Dental Group, we are dedicated to offering excellent care to our amazing patients who are like family to us. We are grateful to treat whole families in Saskatoon across multiple generations, and have a mulicultural team speaking multiple languages. In our latest dental tip we discuss the link between oral health and dementia.

Is There A Link Between Oral Health And Dementia?

Gum disease is caused by infection of the oral tissues that hold your teeth in place. Effects of gum disease include bleeding gums, loose teeth, and even tooth loss in some instances which can be mitigated by good oral health and regular check ups and cleanings. Since September is World Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, we thought it would be fitting to examine the link between oral health and dementia.

In this article, we share the results of a recent study published in 2020 by the US National Institute On Aging (NIA).

A study conducted by the NIA Intramural Research Program team associates bacteria that cause gum disease with the development of Alzheimer’s and related dementias. Large studies have not been conducted to confirm this relationship. However, lab studies suggest that this bacteria causing gum disease can lead to dementia. This is because bacteria can travel through the bloodstream, from the mouth to the brain rather easily. 

NIA Analysis

In their analysis, the NIA Intramural Research Program team looked at whether gum disease and infections with oral bacterias were linked to dementia by using restricted data linkages from Medicare records. The NIA team utilized up to 26 years of follow-up data, for more than 6,000 participants from all different age groups.

Oral Health and Dementia Study Conclusions

Survey participants first received a dental exam for signs of gum disease, along with blood tests that looked for gum disease antibodies. Here are the main findings: 

  • In total, 19 oral bacteria antibodies were analyzed for association with Alzheimer’s and dementia diagnosis. Of the 19 oral bacteria antibodies analyzed, it was found that Porphyromonas gingivalis infection was the most common cause of gum disease. 
  • As a result of Porphyromonas gingivalis (P.gingivitis), plaques of beta-amyloid protein (a major cause of Alzheimer’s) may also be produced, furthering risk. 
  • Those 65 years of age and older with pre-existing symptoms of gum disease were more likely to develop Alzheimer’s over the course of the study.

Overall, the findings of this study suggest that oral infection preceded the diagnosis of dementia. However, population studies can merely show association, and long term follow-up is needed to determine causality.

    Remember that good oral health habits start at home and we encourage you to visit us once a year for a full checkup and examination. Oral health is closely tied to your overall health and wellness and often we can identify issues before they become problems.

    We are always welcoming patients looking for a new dental family. If you would like to book a checkup or if you have any dental questions please do not hesitate to reach out to our team.

    See you soon!

    The Saskatoon Dental Group Team


    Elderly gentleman with dementia brushing teeth in mirror