The Oral Systemic Link to Alzheimer’s, and Other Diseases Associated With Inflammation

Over the past several years, more and more evidence has mounted that inflammation is one of the most common contributors to a wide range of diseases, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and Alzheimer’s. These are the diseases that kill most Americans, and cause the greatest degree of suffering and medical expense.

Therefore, anything that can reduce the level of inflammation within the body can be of a great value for resistance to disease, and overall health. Because controlling inflammation is so important, it is now common for doctors to recommend that people in midlife and beyond take small doses of nonprescription anti-inflammatories every day, such as aspirin.

Many other doctors also recommend that people try to reduce inflammation by avoiding excessive intake of certain foods, such as red meat, and by taking anti-inflammatory supplements, such as fish oil.

Periodontal disease is a terribly harmful source of inflammation. When the oral cavity is full of infection and inflammation, as a result of periodontal disease, it spreads this inflammation throughout the body. Inflammatory carriers enter the bloodstream, lungs, and saliva, and travel throughout the system, increasing existing inflammation, and creating inflammation in previously healthy tissues.

The contributory link between periodontal disease and Alzheimer’s is well supported by studies, including a New York University study, presented at the Alzheimer’s Association 2008 International Conference. This study showed that twice as many people who had Alzheimer’s tested positive for antibodies in their blood that result from a type of bacteria most commonly found in the mouth. For people who are willing to fight their own periodontal disease, this finding is encouraging. It means that they can help delay or prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s. When good oral health is combined with other factors that help prevent Alzheimer’s, such as a healthy diet and exercise, the risk of this dreaded disease can be significantly reduced.