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​Gum disease and Alzheimer's: link shows we can't leave dentistry as an NHS optional extra

23 January 2018


The BDA has urged the Department of Health and patients not to treat oral health as an optional extra, after new research published in the latest edition of the journal Science Advances links gum disease to Alzheimer's.


There are hundreds of bacteria implicated in the development of severe gum disease, though it's thought that P. gingivalis is one of the main pathogens involved in tooth loss. This study suggests that the same pathogen may play a role in developing Alzheimer's.

The last comprehensive dental survey of adults found that gum disease affects nearly half (45%) of the population. The condition varies from mild inflammation to reddened, swollen or bleeding gums and at the advanced stage, loose teeth.


Other studies have found links between poor oral health and conditions, including heart disease and diabetes. 


BDA scientific adviser Professor Damien Walmsley said: 


"This study offers a welcome reminder that oral health can't remain an optional extra in our health service. Everyone's life can be improved by regular appointments and good oral hygiene, reducing the bacterial load that's ever present in our mouths to a level that's unlikely to cause tooth decay, gum disease or tooth loss.


"This isn't just about teeth and gums. Brushing teeth twice daily with fluoride toothpaste for at least two minutes, eating less sugar, less often and seeing the dentist regularly can help support your overall health."


Campaigning for better oral health

We campaign on a range of issues for better working lives for dentists and we work to improve the oral health of the nation. Find out more about our work on sugar and children's oral health, antibiotic prescribing, and oral cancer.


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