Left untreated, gingivitis might develop into periodontitis. Periodontitis is a serious disease of the gums that destroys bone and damages the soft tissues of the mouth. People who have periodontal disease may lose their teeth and suffer from chronic bad breath. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that up to 47.2% of U.S. adults suffer from periodontitis. Recently, researchers in South Korea discovered a link between periodontal disease and the development of dementia. Given the prevalence of periodontal disease, this research has far-reaching implications. Treating periodontitis and getting regular dental care might help you to prevent dementia later in life.
Link found between periodontitis and dementia
The Korean researchers reviewed data from the National Health Insurance Service for 262,349 people who were age 50 and older. The NHIS provides health insurance to all Koreans and collects health information. The researchers compared people with chronic periodontitis to people without gum disease from 2005 to 2015.
Over the 10-year period, the researchers found that people with chronic periodontitis had a 6% higher likelihood of developing dementia than people with healthy mouths. This higher risk persisted regardless of other lifestyle factors like alcohol consumption, smoking, and exercise. The researchers called for future research about whether treating periodontitis might lead to a lower risk of dementia.