Poor Oral Health May Contribute to the Risk of Dementia

Published 04/24/2024

This visual report from CareQuest Institute examines current research on the links between poor oral health and the risk of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD). It is estimated that by 2040, the number of individuals with ADRD in the US could reach 12 million, making it critical to determine whether improvements in oral health may prevent or reduce the symptoms of this disease. 

Is there a link between oral health and dementia? 

Highlighted research findings include:

  • Adults aged 50–80 with Alzheimer’s disease have worse periodontal (gum) health than their peers without Alzheimer’s, including more plaque, more bone loss around the teeth, and more gingival bleeding.  
  • Tooth loss from gum disease or tooth decay is linked with a higher risk of being diagnosed with ADRD.
  • Individuals with ADRD — including those living in long-term care facilities — are at increased risk of poor oral health, due to challenges with maintaining oral hygiene and accessing professional oral health care.  
  • Minimally invasive treatments may be useful to treat and prevent caries for adults with ADRD who are unable to receive care in a dental office.

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