A new study published in the online journal PLoS One suggests that individuals with poor dental health and periodontitis may have marked increase in cognitive decline related to Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
This is perhaps the first longitudinal study examining the correlation between poor dental health and cognitive outcomes.
Previous research also indicates that systemic inflammation may contribute to an increase in cognitive decline in AD and drive the progression of neurodegeneration. This is substantiated by the evidence that the level of antibodies to common periodontal microbiota correlates with the risk for developing AD.
In the PLoS One six month observational cohort study, Mark Ide and colleagues from the Dental Institute, Kings College, London, and the University of Southampton, Faculty of Medicine, Southampton, UK cognitively assessed 60 participants with mild to moderate dementia, and monitored blood systemic inflammatory markers.
The authors report that periodontitis at baseline was associated with a six fold increase in the rate of cognitive decline over a six month follow up period.
If these results and the causal link between periodontitis and cognitive decline are confirmed in studies using a larger number of participants, targeting and treating the gum disease might be a possible treatment strategy in Alzheimer’s disease.