Oral Infection: A Risk Factor for Alzheimer’s Disease

Oral infections are being considered a potential risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, according to a January 2014 study published in the Faculty Dental Journal.

According to the study, inflammation has been shown to play a key role in the development of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. In this study, researchers link the role of inflammation in Alzheimer’s disease with the number one source of inflammation in humans: oral inflammation.

It has been well established that periodontal disease is an inflammatory disease whereby specific bacteria from oral biofilm cause an inflammatory response. Inflammation from the mouth can cause an inflammatory cascade throughout the body and cause a significant impact to systemic health.

There is a lot of research lately showing that Alzheimer’s disease is of an infectious origin, potentially caused by the transmission of oral pathogens to the brain. The lipopolysaccharides (remnants from the membranes of gram-negative bacteria) of one pathogen in particular, P. gingivalis, have been found in the brain at the sites of the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

Time and time again, addressing oral inflammation has been shown to reduce the inflammatory impact on most if not all inflammatory diseases, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis. Alzheimer’s disease, while not widely recognized as an inflammatory disease, has inflammatory pathways in its progression. The impact of inflammation on these pathways accelerates the development of Alzheimer’s disease

From this study, one can conclude that by reducing the inflammatory response to periodontal disease—which, incidentally, is a very treatable disease—one can reduce the inflammatory impact of oral pathogens on the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and therefore potentially delay its development.

It behooves us as healthcare professionals to address the specific bacteria of periodontal disease in a total body wellness approach to disease prevention.


Source: Emerging evidence for associations between periodontitis and the development of Alzheimer’s disease