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Gum health could be a risk factor for dementia, study suggests

July 29, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

Gum disease can affect far more than our mouths -- it's associated with a wide range of health conditions. Now, a new study finds a link between poor oral health and the onset of dementia.

There is a link between stages of periodontal disease, which can ultimately cause tooth and bone loss, and mild cognitive impairment and dementia 20 years later, the study found.

"We looked at people's dental health over a 20-year period and found that people with the most severe gum disease at the start of our study had about twice the risk for mild cognitive impairment or dementia by the end," said study author Ryan Demmer, an associate professor at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health in Minneapolis.

My core hypothesis is that bacteria in the mouth that cause periodontal disease, are also a cause of systemic outcomes (cardiovascular disease, dementia etc. )," he said via email.

While good dental hygiene is a "proven way to keep healthy teeth and gums throughout your lifetime," Demmer said his study only shows an association between an unhealthy mouth and dementia, and cannot prove any cause and effect.

For those with mild gum disease at the start, 623 out of 3,470, or 18%, developed dementia.

For participants with severe gum disease, 306 out of 1,368, or 22%, developed dementia.

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