The association between periodontal disease and dementia conditions have long been known. A recent study published in Sciences Advances* reveals a potential link between Porphyromonas gingivalis and Alzheimer’s disease. P. gingivalis is one of the main pathogens in the cause and development of chronic periodontal disease. Evidence of P. gingivalis was found in the brain tissue, spinal fluid, and saliva from Alzheimer’s patients. Ninety-six percent of 53 brain tissue samples examined had high levels of gingipains, which are toxic enzymes secreted by P. gingivalis detected in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
Other animal studies have shown that gingipains can travel from the mouth to the brain and destroy brain neurons. P. gingivalis has also been shown to increase the production of amyloid beta, which is a part of the amyloid plaques that contributes to Alzheimer’s.
Dr. Richard Kao, president of the American Academy of Periodontology, states, ”These recent findings present strong evidence on how periodontal disease can impact the pathogenesis of Alzheimer‘s disease and should highlight how crucial it is to manage periodontal disease, especially in older adults or individuals who have increase risk for dementia.”
Further research is being done to establish the possible causal relationship between periodontal disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
* Dominy, et al., Science Advances. January, 2019