Could Treating Gum Disease Early Slow the Progression of Alzheimer’s?

Geriatric doctor consulting and diagnostic examining elderly senior adult patient on ageing, Parkinson's disease, Arthritis hand and knee pain and mental health care in medical exam clinic or hospital

Anyone who has been close to someone who has suffered from Alzheimer’s knows the emotional pain and heartbreak that comes with the disease. The person you knew and loved slowly fades into someone who doesn’t remember you or the memories you have shared together over the years. There is no greater heartbreak, many would say, than that of loving someone with Alzheimer’s. So if there was something, anything we could do to slow the progression, we would in a heartbeat.

Research has found a link between Alzheimer’s disease and a type of bacteria Fusobacterium nucleatum (F. nucleatum) associated with oral conditions like gum disease, bad breath, tooth abscess, and mouth cancer. Scientists think this bacteria may make Alzheimer’s symptoms worse by increasing inflammation, therefore, gum disease treatment and prevention could possibly slow the progression of the disease. 

The study published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience was done using mice, ‘showed that F. nucleatum might worsen Alzheimer’s disease, either by creating inflammation or by taking up residence in the brain and secreting pathological molecules’. 

While it might seem odd that bacteria found in the mouth could have such far-reaching effects, Dr. Davey and his team are firm believers in Complete Healthy Dentistry, acknowledging and treating the oral microbiome as part of the entire body’s health and wellness. What affects the mouth has far reaching implications in other areas of the body. That much has been proven time and time again by study after study. 

While this research does not prove that gum disease causes or can cause Alzheimer’s disease, it does suggest that if not adequately treated, gum disease might make Alzheimer’s disease symptoms worse. Additionally, treating gum disease in the early stages of Alzheimer’s could potentially slow its progression.

It’s important to be vigilant about oral hygiene at home and coming in for your twice yearly exams and professional cleanings. This is how we stay on top of early diagnoses and ensure that treatment begins early and prevention is key. Some of the early indicators of gum disease are red, inflamed gums, bleeding when flossing or vigorously brushing, bad breath that does not go away with brushing and soreness of the gums after flossing or brushing. For more information about gum disease or to schedule an appointment, call our office today at 858-538-8300.