Could this daily routine prevent dementia?

Could this daily routine prevent dementia?

More than 47 million people across the globe have dementia, and there are 7.7 million new cases reported each year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. One of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease is the buildup of amyloid plaques in the brain early on in the disease.

A study by researchers at the University of Southern California in the journal Neurobiology of Aging suggests there may be a link between people’s oral health practices and dementia.

Their findings: elderly people with a history of periodontal inflammation due to a buildup of dental plaque and bacteria around the gums had an increased risk of developing dementia. Other studies have suggested that dental disease may also lead to higher levels of brain amyloid and more rapid cognitive decline.

Previous reports have suggested an association between periodontal disease and heart disease, stroke and diabetes. This study suggests that the risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease may also be related to poor dental health. Might brushing your teeth and maintaining proper oral hygiene help prevent dementia?

Dr. Darren Gitelman, senior medical director at the Advocate Memory Center located at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill., believes that this research is important, but more work needs to be done.

“The precise mechanisms by which periodontal disease may increase the risk of dementia are not entirely clear,” says Dr. Gitelman. “Some studies have suggested that the chronic oral inflammation associated with periodontal disease may be the culprit, but not all studies have shown a linkage with dementia. Furthermore, there are currently no recommended clinical tests of this inflammation.”

Despite these study limitations, Dr. Gitelman’s take home message is that taking care of one’s oral health is important and may have a variety of health benefits.

To learn more about the risk factors for gum disease, visit this resource.

Related Posts



  1. So where is the routine? Great pointless article per your title. ? Daily routine is?

    • It is in the article. You might have just missed it. The daily routine is to brush your teeth. See last sentence of 5th paragraph. “Might brushing your teeth and maintaining proper oral hygiene help prevent dementia?”

  2. Christine Cowen April 19, 2017 at 12:15 pm · Reply

    Interesting article. Respectfully, I would like to add the following:

    The toxin Amyloid and other toxins are flushed from the brain during N3 sleep. A person with obstructive sleep apnea usually does not get enough of this important sleep stage, allowing the Amyloid buildup. This has been shown to increase the chance of Alzheimer’s and memory loss. Untreated sleep apnea also shows an increase in heart disease, stroke, hypertension and Type II Diabetes. The periodontal disease I wonder if oral breathing may be part of the problem. People with sleep apnea tend to be oral breathers during sleep. This could expose the gums and reduce the needed moisture in the mouth.

    I am most interested in your thoughts regarding this. Wouldn’t this be a great research project?

    Christine Cowen, RPSGT, CCSH
    Advocate, Clinical Sleep Educator

  3. I agree with you, Bob. However, I think the point was that you brush your teeth twice a day (as recommended by most dentists) and definitely visit your dentist especially if you have periodontal disease!

  4. oops, article already too late for Mr, Lane!

  5. Jill Schauwecker April 19, 2017 at 1:07 pm · Reply

    brush & floss after meals

  6. I always read these blogs, so I agree with Bob Lane Bob , what routine are we talking about?
    I always look for the facts, references, article number and date that was published. It would be nice to include these. Here is an abstract of the article I found so I copy and paste for everyone to see. This article was published on February 2015, volume 36, issue 2, pages 627- 623 in the Journal of Neurobiology of Aging.
    It reads;”Tittle: Periodontal disease associates with higher brain amyloid load in normal elderly


    The accumulation of amyloid-β (Aβ) plaques is a central feature of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). First reported in animal models, it remains uncertain if peripheral inflammatory and/or infectious conditions in humans can promote Aβ brain accumulation. Periodontal disease, a common chronic infection, has been previously reported to be associated with AD. Thirty-eight cognitively normal, healthy, and community-residing elderly (mean age, 61 and 68% female) were examined in an Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center and a University-Based Dental School. Linear regression models (adjusted for age, apolipoprotein E, and smoking) were used to test the hypothesis that periodontal disease assessed by clinical attachment loss was associated with brain Aβ load using 11C-Pittsburgh compound B (PIB) positron emission tomography imaging. After adjusting for confounders, clinical attachment loss (≥3 mm), representing a history of periodontal inflammatory/infectious burden, was associated with increased PIB uptake in Aβ vulnerable brain regions (p = 0.002). We show for the first time in humans an association between periodontal disease and brain Aβ load. These data are consistent with the previous animal studies showing that peripheral inflammation/infections are sufficient to produce brain Aβ accumulations.”
    Furthermore, you can find the whole article by clicking here DOI:

  7. It would be nice if the editors of articles like this would include some verbiage regarding cause & effect. Is it possible that cognitive decline leads to poor oral hygiene which causes periodontal disease and not the other way around? Is it possible that a person who neglects their oral health may also neglect their heart health or vice versa? Maybe the periodontal disease isn’t the cause of these maladies.
    My point is that these articles never give enough details regarding factors that impact the conclusions.

  8. There are so many unknowns as far as dementia/Alzheimers goes. But it has been strongly suggested good oral hygiene, brushing, flossing, & regular visits to the dentist can have benefits to the individual. So if it “helps” with maladies like strokes, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes – why would not invest in a good brush every 3 months? It can’t hurt!

  9. My husband always brushed and flossed twice a day. When he would go for his 6 month cleaning and check-up his teeth would be covered with plaque and they would lightly chastise him for not flossing. I, on the other hand, continuously forgot to floss and was always told what a good job I did keeping my teeth plaque under control.
    My husband has early onset Alzheimer’s disease. It is not because he didn’t floss twice a day.
    He also has never had sleep apnea, He sleeps all night and wakes up refreshed in the morning.

    I definitely think there is a connection between the body producing plaque in the brain and in the mouth. I also did not see any routine in the article that would help stop dementia.

  10. Katherine Monti April 21, 2017 at 12:38 pm · Reply

    How long was the “history” of periodontal inflammation? Did the lack of dental hygiene cause dementia, or did the early stages of dementia cause the lack of dental hygiene that in turn led to inflammation that was later associated with more advanced (and therefore recognized) dementia? Perhaps, in some cases, an increase in dental plaque is an early sign of dementia rather than a cause of dementia.

About the Author

Marrison Worthington
Marrison Worthington

Marrison Worthington, health enews contributor, is a public affairs and marketing manager at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Illinois. She is a graduate of Illinois State University and has several years of global corporate communications experience under her belt. Marrison loves spending her free time traveling, reading organizational development blogs, trying new cooking recipes, and playing with her golden retriever, Ari.