The Link Between Gum Disease and Dementia

The next time you’re around someone with Dementia or one of it’s various forms, look at their teeth. Chances are they will not have a perfect smile. Far from it. That’s because scientists are finding a strong link between gum disease and dementia. Finding that link may help the rest of us reduce our chances of having dementia as we grow old.

What is Gum Disease?

Gum disease is a broad term that basically means anything affecting the red tissue around your teeth that hold your teeth in place. Primarily it is bacteria that eat away at the red tissue that can cause:

  • Receding gums
  • Bleeding gums
  • Loose teeth
  • Teeth to fall out

Many old people have not done an adequate job of taking care of their teeth and gums. A lifetime of neglect allows the bad bacteria in your mouth to attack the gums.

Gum Disease and Dementia

The link between gum disease and dementia lies in those same bacteria that are causing your tooth decay. A 2020 study using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey looked at over 6,000 participants using Medicare and Death certificate data.

They found that the bacteria Porphyromonas gingivalis, the bacteria that is most often associated with gum disease, can also contribute to beta amyloid plaques in the brain. The beta amyloid plaques are the brain’s response to fight the bacteria. However, those plaques may also do harm to people’s brains. The plaques are often found in people with dementia. The researcher’s conclusion therefore is that this bacteria can cause both gum disease and dementia.

Besides the gum disease affecting your gums, it can also live in root canals and teeth that are dead.

What Can Be Done about Gum Disease and Dementia?

Obviously the best thing to do to prevent both gum disease and dementia is to take care of your teeth. Prevention is the best medicine. That is not to say if you have perfect teeth you won’t ever have to worry about dementia. There are many causes for dementia. And there are many things to do to help prevent it.

But it may be able to help.

What if your Mom, Dad or grandparent already has gum disease and dementia?

Oral surgery can help. Oral surgeons can remove the infections by removing bad teeth and medications in the mouth. Dentists are oral surgeons are learning more every day about how they can help improve both mental and oral health.

If your loved one has dementia, it would be a good idea to bring them into the dentist. Have the dentist do a Cone Beam scan. They can see much more detail than a regular x-ray in the gums and soft tissues to determine if there is an infection. If your dentist doesn’t have a scanner, you might want to find another dentist.


Tooth decay is bad for many reasons. Problems all over your body can form when your teeth start to decay. It’s not just gum disease and dementia. Gum disease can also impair gut and immune system health.

Like many health issues, the sooner people address their gum disease, the better the outcome. However, issues ranging from fear of the dentist to poor eating habits sometimes  make it difficult to take care of your teeth like you should.

Have you or has anyone in your family had trouble with gum disease and dementia? We’d love to know what you found. Please leave a comment letting us know.

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From Pilot to Paradise: Meet Hal Cranmer!

Mr. Cranmer went from Air Force Special Operations Pilot to Airline Pilot to running a multimillion dollar manufacturing plant after 9/11 ended his flying career. Now he is bringing his business expertise to his true passion - taking care of seniors in his 'A Paradise for Parents' assisted living homes in Surprise and Goodyear, AZ. Read Hal's crazy career story, 'From Air Force Pilot to Assisted Living Owner'. Click the button to send Hal a message!

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