Periodontal disease and Alzheimer’s disease link

October 26, 2016

Jacob Schor, ND, FABNO


An article that I wrote for a Special Issue of the Natural Medicine Journal that focuses on immunology appeared online today, October 26, 2016.  You can read it here:


I wrote about a recent study that suggests an association between oral health and brain health, or put the opposite way, about periodontitis and Alzheimer’s disease.  It seems that having infected gums speeds progression of Alzheimer’s disease, an association that increases the argument that declines in cognitive function may be related to infection.  The current theory is that plaque formation in the brain is the body’s attempt to trap invading bacteria.  While I haven’t seen advertisements for dental hygenists playing on this association yet, [‘don’t forget to get your teeth cleaned’ or ‘forget to get your teeth cleaned’ or other promotions in equally poor taste], it is quite intriguing.  First for the obvious reason that something as simple as focusing on oral hygiene may delay onset and progression of a debilitating illness.  Second because it helps explain data from earlier studies.


Back in 2010 there was a paper from Utah that suggested individuals who were primary caretakers of a spouse with Alzheimer’s were at way higher risk to also suffer from eventual dementia.  The explanation was this was due to stress but I recall wondering at the time whether it might be some sort of infectious etiology.  The spousal risk was way high, about double or triple that of someone suffering from PTSD.  That stood out in my mind:


It makes me look back at the other things we have noticed over the years that are associated with lower risk of this disease and consider what sort of impact they might have on infection and even in particular on periodontitis.


Back in 2006 we looked at a study from Seattle that reported drinking fruit juice with some moderate regularity substantially decreased risk of cognitive decline.

As I wrote at the time, “They found that those individuals who drank fruit and/or vegetable juice at least three times a week had a 76% lower chance of developing Alzheimer's Disease compared to people who drank juice once a week or less.


Does juice change oral health?  A 2012 paper suggests that cranberry juice might have a protective effect on oral health, through much the same manner as it protects the bladder against infection.

But not much else.


In 2010 I wrote about UCLA’s interest on turmeric extracts to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.


In this case, there are a number of interesting papers suggesting a role for curcumin in oral health.

A paper earlier this year reported that turmeric extracts were useful in preventing growth of A. actinomycetemcomitans, (now that name’s a mouth full)


A May 2016 paper reports that a combination of resveratrol and turmeric is useful in treating periodontitis in rats.

And while I wasn’t able to find a specific paper on grape juice, my readers are going ah-hah, resveratrol comes from grapejuice….


An April diabetic rat paper also reported turmeric benefit for both periodontal disease and systemic diesease.


A 2011 paper suggested green tea and theanine might be useful for Alzheimer’s disease.

Well a simple search on PubMed turns up 109 citations for “green tea and periodontal disease”, enough citations that I won’t start to list them.  You can get your own updated list by going to:

Though here is an abstract of a 2015 review paper on the topic as a summary:


If we go back a full dozen years to 2004, I wrote about walking as a way to protect against Alzheimer’s disease.

Is there any association between walking and dental health?


Well in fact there is.  A 2003 paper reported that “Increased physical activity decreases periodontitis risk in men.”


Who would have thought?