Link between periodontal disease and Alzheimer's disease: a reality
Dr Michaël Lumbroso, a dental surgeon in Versailles, discusses the causality between periodontal disease and Alzheimer's disease, and the appropriate treatments to prevent periodontitis.
We have known for many years that periodontal and oral diseases have a real impact on a patient's general health : cardiovascular disorders, diabetes, risk of premature delivery, dietary imbalance, rheumatoid arthritis, even certain cancers...
However, a study conducted in 2013 by researchers from the University of Lancashire in the United Kingdom has established a link between periodontal disease and Alzheimer's disease.
To find this correlation, the researchers studied the brains of 20 patients within 12 hours of their deaths. Ten of these patients had Alzheimer's disease.
In 4 out of 10 cases, the scientists detected the presence of Porphyromonas gingivalisa bacterium clearly identified as responsible for advanced periodontal damage. The genes in Porphyromonas gingivalis bacteria alter the autophagy process in nerve cells, blocking the natural cell regeneration mechanism.
This is the first time that a serological marker of periodontitis has been linked to cognitive impairment.
However, previous studies in the US have shown a link between gum inflammation and an increased risk of cognitive decline in an older patient.
Preventing periodontal disease
Did you know that periodontal disease affects nearly eight out of ten adults?
Dental pain, loosening or even loss of teeth, psychological consequences, not to mention the various diseases and pathologies we have listed above... the consequences are numerous and potentially serious for people suffering from periodontitis.
Despite this alarming reality, this pathology is not a fatality and it is possible to treat it with adapted means, provided that prevention is given pride of place and that an effective treatment is followed.
Good dental hygiene is the basis of gum protection. This consists of brushing two to three times a day for three minutes. A soft-bristled toothbrush is recommended to avoid damaging the gums.
Scaling every six months or once a year will reduce plaque formation and prevent gingivitis. This mechanical treatment can be complemented by spraying with bicarbonate and salts and polishing the affected teeth.
When the patient reaches the stage of periodontitis, the dentist will use more aggressive techniques based on chemical treatment with antiseptics and the application of a bicarbonate and hydrogen peroxide paste, which the patient will use from the start of the treatment.
The practitioner will then resort to root planing, a root planing procedure that removes the deep tartar in the periodontal pockets and allows the affected teeth to re-adhere to the gum.
Post-treatment follow-up is based on controlling the risk of infection. It is important to know that gingivitis can be treated, whereas periodontitis, a much more serious stage of periodontal disease, can only be "stabilised". To complete a root planing, the patient can use antiseptic mouthwashes or even antibiotics, depending on the advice of his dentist.
In conclusion, periodontal disease and its impact on general health should not be neglected. Hence the importance of prevention, which involves rigorous dental hygiene and regular monitoring by your dentist.
Dr Michaël LUMBROSO
Implantologist - Periodontologist - Dental Surgeon in Versailles