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  • Writer's pictureBrian A. Raphan, Esq.

Can Gum Disease Lead To Alzheimer's Disease?

Updated: Aug 1, 2019

It is unfortunate when we work with individuals or families when one of the parents has Alzheimer's Disease. I was discussing the issue with a prominent New York City dentist, Dr. Edgard El Chaar, and he told me about some interesting research that links Alzheimer’s to dental issues!

Not only is Dr. El Chaar a Clinical Associate Professor at NYU College of Dentistry who lectures internationally, he also runs a full-service dental practice in Midtown Manhattan.

Feel free to mention my name if you stop by his office for your own dental needs, from cleanings, cavities, cosmetics, or implants. - Brian

Article by Dr. Edgard El Chaar

A recent study has periodontists, experts in the treatment, diagnosis, and prevention of periodontal disease, encouraging patients to maintain gum health in an effort to reduce their Alzheimer’s disease risk. 

The study, published in the journal Science Advances, uncovered a potential link between P. gingivalis, the bacteria associated with periodontal disease (commonly known as gum disease) and Alzheimer’s. Researchers analyzed brain tissue, spinal fluid, and saliva from Alzheimer’s patients—both living and deceased—and found evidence of P. gingivalis. Gingipains, the toxic enzyme secreted by P. gingivalis, were found in 96 percent of the 53 brain tissue samples examined, with higher levels detected in those with the pathology and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

Additionally, researchers including co-author Mark I. Ryder DMD, Professor of Periodontology at the University of California, San Francisco, noted that the presence of P. gingivalis increased the production of amyloid beta, a component of the amyloid plaques whose accumulation contributes to Alzheimer’s.

The study confirmed via animal testing that P. gingivalis can travel from the mouth to the brain and that the related gingipains can destroy brain neurons. These findings are noteworthy in that they suggest a biological mechanism for how periodontal disease bacteria may play a role in the development and progression of Alzheimer’s.

Dr. El Chaar, the head of the periodontics specialty training at New York University college of dentistry, encourages older adults and other at-risk individuals to maintain diligent oral care and promptly treat periodontal disease to help mitigate Alzheimer’s risk. “More than half of the U.S. population age 30 and older has some form of periodontal disease. Prevalence increases to 68 percent for those age 65 and older. Routine brushing, flossing once a day, and visiting a periodontist can help identify any disease and treat as needed, potentially diminishing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.”

Call Edgard El Chaar DDS. PC. at (212) 685-5133 to schedule an appointment for a periodontal screening.


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