“Double the Risk” Poor Oral Health Linked to Dementia, Expert Warns

 “Double the Risk” Poor Oral Health Linked to Dementia, Expert Warns

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A dental expert has issued crucial advice that could help people avoid dementia. Dr. Alp Kantarci, speaking on the Zoe Health podcast, revealed that research indicates individuals suffering from oral diseases are at a significantly higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative conditions.

He explained that extensive scientific studies involving hundreds of thousands of individuals have established a strong correlation between conditions like gum disease and brain disorders. The statistics are quite alarming. Dr. Kantarci elaborated: “We know that oral diseases or periodontal diseases specifically can increase the risk of Alzheimer’s or neurodegenerative diseases by about 1.5 to twofold. Dementia is about a twofold increase. And then Alzheimer’s disease can be one point to one point five.”

Zoe CEO Jonathan Wolf was taken aback by these figures, exclaiming: “So that’s enormous. So just to make sure that I understand you are saying that you double the chance of getting dementia if you have oral disease than you if you don’t.”

Dr. Kantarci, a dementia expert, highlighted that the relationship between poor dental health and dementia is bidirectional. He explained: “The reverse is also true. Having Alzheimer’s disease can also increase your chance of getting gum disease by about like almost 1.5 to 2-fold. So it’s a two-directional or bidirectional link between those two, which begs your view that the oral health.”

Dr. Kantarci is a professor, scientist, dentist, oral health researcher, periodontist, dental implant surgeon, and senior member of staff at the Forsyth Institute, an independent research institute focusing on the connections between oral health and overall wellness.

Jonathan Wolf chimed in with: “It’s not just that someone has dementia, so their oral health is worse. Do you think that bad oral health can cause this? And I know you said you’re doing intervention studies, but we all know that takes a long time.”

Dr. Kantarci emphasized the importance of intervention studies, which involve improving a person’s oral health as a preventative measure against dementia. He stated: “Intervention studies are going to be extremely important because it will show how much risk we can reduce and what populations are going to be resistant to this risk reduction. I mean, yes, these are all lovely studies showing that if you don’t brush your teeth, you may have a higher chance of neurodegenerative diseases, Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia.”

“But when we do the intervention studies, is this going to help everybody to reduce the risk? We don’t know that yet. So that’s going to identify how much of this one is really coming from the oral sources and how much of this one is really coming from the systemic impact of the oral diseases so that it can actually affect it.”

Dr. Kantarci’s insights underscore the critical importance of maintaining good oral health as a potential means to mitigate the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s, highlighting the need for further research and intervention strategies.

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