More Studies Link Gum Disease to Cognitive Impairments

One of our frequent topics provides current research linking gum disease to other “systemic” illnesses of the body – cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, heart and kidney disease, and stroke to list just an unfortunate few maladies.

As reported in Neurology, researchers at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health studied more than 8,000 subjects with an average age of 63, for an average period of 20 years. None of the participants had dementia at the beginning of the study. Of the participants, 19% had developed dementia during the study period. As reported in Decisions in Dentistry about the same study, “Individuals with intermediate or severe periodontal disease had a 20% greater risk of developing cognitive impairment compared to healthy controls.”

An even more jarring finding showed that individuals that were totally edentulous (missing all teeth) by the end of the study had twice the risk of dementia or cognitive impairment or dementia.

You CAN Avoid Gum Disease!

Basic good oral hygiene in the form of daily brushing and flossing is your best way of removing plaque and avoiding gum disease. Eating a healthy diet and avoiding or stopping smoking will help. But some people are just more prone to gum disease than others, which is where regular professional dental maintenance cleanings, or periodontal cleanings if you’ve been diagnosed with gum disease, become even more important.

Symptoms of Gum Disease

Red, swollen gums may be one of the first symptoms. Bad breath that doesn’t go away and can’t be attributed to, for instance, stomach issues, as well as painful chewing, receding gums (teeth look longer than normal) or loose teeth, are also symptoms. But you can still have gum disease, known as gingivitis in its mildest form, without exhibiting any of these symptoms.

Periodontists are experts at diagnosing and treating gum disease. For more information on the topic, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Infection (CDC) oral health section, and/or be sure to call us at the Pennsylvania Center for Dental Implants and Periodontics at 215-677-8686.