Gum Health Predicts Cognitive Function in Elderly

August 10, 2010 | Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist

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 Gum Health Predicts Cognitive Function in Elderly
We are entering a new health paradigm based on cross-inflammation between what were formerly thought of as separate systems of your body. Research over the past few years has linked inflammatory gum-related problems to cognitive decline and the risk for Alzheimer’s. The latest study offers more confirmation, showing that 70 year olds with gum inflammation1 score much worse on cognitive function testing.

American and Danish researchers collaborated in the new study of 152 Danish men and women that were part of the Glostrop Aging Study. The study group has been gathering medical and dental data for decades, enabling a comparison between dental health and cognitive function at ages 50 and 70. The data clearly links a decline in cognitive function associated with gum inflammation.

Lead researcher, Dr. Angela Kamer, Assistant Professor of Periodontology and Implant Dentistry at New York University, published previous research in 20082 explaining the theoretical link between Alzheimer’s and gum disease. In 20093 she clearly demonstrated that patients with Alzheimer's disease had a significantly higher level of antibodies and inflammatory molecules associated with periodontal disease in their plasma compared to healthy people.

Collectively, these studies show that gum problems are a risk factor for cognitive decline. In recent years I have also reported on the link between gum problems and heart disease — while explaining the precise biological mechanism. Gum problems are also linked to digestive health, especially if there is a Candida imbalance. Gum problems have also been linked to the severity of arthritic pain. There is plenty of data now linking gum health to other health problems, in a chicken or the egg dilemma. I call this topic cross-inflammation and it is very important to your health.

Gums are something you can readily observe, and problems with them are highly predictive of trouble elsewhere. Dental hygiene is of extreme importance to your future health. Your gum health is also the “front end” of your overall digestive system — meaning that fully clearing up gum problems may also require correcting imbalances that likely exist within your digestive tract.

Referenced Studies

  1. ^ Gum Inflammation Linked to Alzheimer's Disease  2010 annual meeting of the International Association for Dental Research   Kamer, et al.
  2. ^ Gum Disease as an Alzheimer's Risk Factor  Alzheimers Dement.   Kamer AR, Craig RG, Dasanayake AP, Brys M, Glodzik-Sobanska L, de Leon MJ.
  3. ^ Gum Disease Inflammation Linked to Alzheimer's Disease Risk  J Neuroimmunol.  Kamer AR, Craig RG, Pirraglia E, Dasanayake AP, Norman RG, Boylan RJ, Nehorayoff A, Glodzik L, Brys M, de Leon MJ.

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