Researchers have recently found a link between periodontal disease and greater rates of cognitive decline in people with early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. While periodontitis may be more common in those with Alzheimer’s Disease since they may be less able to maintain oral hygiene as the disease progresses, researchers have found higher levels of antibodies to periodontal bacteria associated with an increase in levels of inflammatory molecules which has also been linked to greater rates of decline in Alzheimer’s Disease. The latest study measured inflammatory markers via blood samples from Alzheimer patients with periodontal disease, and found a 6-fold increase in the rate of cognitive decline. The researchers concluded that periodontitis is associated with an increase in cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s disease. This information builds on previous studies that have shown that chronic inflammatory conditions have a detrimental effect on disease progression in people with Alzheimer’s disease. It suggests that effective periodontal treatment, which reduces the levels of these inflammatory molecules, could possibly lead to slower rates of cognitive decline.
The study, “Periodontitis and Cognitive Decline in Alzheimer’s Disease,” was published by PLOS ONE.