Chronic periodontitis is a risk factor for dementia, according to researchers at Seoul National University in South Korea who examined information from the National Health Insurance Service-Health Screening Cohort (NHIS-HEALS).
The NHIS provides mandatory health insurance, covering nearly all forms of healthcare for all Korean citizens. The agency also provides health screening examinations twice a year for all enrollees age 40 or older and maintains detailed health records for all enrollees.
The researchers looked at data from 262,349 people age 50 and older, noting whether or not each subject had chronic periodontitis. Next, the researchers followed these subjects from January 1, 2005, until they were diagnosed with dementia, they died, or until the end of December 2015, whichever came first.
Those with chronic periodontitis had a 6% higher risk for dementia than those without it. This connection was true despite behaviors such as smoking, alcohol consumption, and physical activity.
To their knowledge, the researchers said, this is the first study to demonstrate that chronic periodontitis could be linked to a higher risk for dementia even after accounting for lifestyle behaviors.
The researchers suggested that future studies could be conducted to investigate whether preventing and treating chronic periodontitis could lead to a reduced risk of dementia. Previous studies have linked periodontitis with Alzheimer’s disease, which is one form of dementia.
The study, “Association of Chronic Periodontitis on Alzheimer’s Disease or Vascular Dementia,” was published by the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.