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Can Gum Disease Lead to Alzheimer's? Study Says It Just Might

(AP/CBS) CBS/AP

(CBS) If you needed another reason to brush and floss, maybe this will help.

Researchers at New York University have found that gum disease may increase the risk of cognitive dysfunction associated with Alzheimer's disease.

This NYU study provides fresh evidence that gum inflammation is associated with inflammation in the brain.

The research team, led by Dr. Angela Kamer, assistant professor of periodontology & implant dentistry, studied 20 years of data from Denmark that support the hypothesis of a link between periodontal disease and Alzheimer's.

Those with gum disease at age 70 were nine times more likely to test in the lower range of brain function tests compared to those with little or no periodontal inflammation.

Other health factors that tend to lower test scores, such as obesity, cigarette smoking, and tooth loss unrelated to gum inflammation, were factored in, but the strong association held true.

Kamer is working on a follow-up study, which will include a more ethnically diverse pool of people.

But why wait follow-up--go brush your teeth!

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