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Oral health is intricately linked to overall well-being, with emerging research identifying associations between poor oral health and an increased risk of many chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer. A recent study found that oral diseases associated with tooth loss more than tripled the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers assessed Alzheimer’s disease risk among more than 32 million people. They categorized the participants as having normal or poor oral health and assessed serum biomarkers associated with Alzheimer’s, including blood glucose, lipids, and C-reactive protein (a marker of inflammation).

They found that more than 1.2 million participants had poor oral health, while the remainder had normal oral health. Those with poor oral health were more than twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than those with normal oral health, regardless of age, gender, or serum biomarkers. Those with oral conditions associated with tooth loss were more than three times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s.

The findings from this large epidemiological study suggest that poor oral health markedly increases a person’s risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease. In vitro research further supports these findings, demonstrating that oral bacteria colonize the brain and release toxins that disrupt the blood-brain barrier, impairing its function and increasing the risk of Alzheimer’s. And research in mice shows that oral bacteria over-stimulate microglia, impairing their ability to eliminate amyloid-beta, a harmful protein linked to Alzheimer’s.

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