Objective: To examine longitudinal oral health changes in unmedicated, generally healthy subjects with Alzheimer's disease (AD) and compare them to age- and gender-matched healthy, unmedicated control subjects.
Design: Oral health parameters were evaluated over 2 to 3 years and the results compared between subjects with AD and controls.
Setting: Clinical Center of the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.
Participants: Twenty-one community-dwelling subjects with a clinical diagnosis of AD and 21 age- and gender-matched control subjects. Neither population was being treated for any other systemic condition nor taking any prescription medications.
Measurements: Unstimulated and stimulated major salivary gland flow rates were measured, and gingival, periodontal, dental, and oral mucosal tissues assessed.
Main results: In general, subjects with AD demonstrated decreased salivary flow rates and diminished oral health, but most longitudinal changes in oral health status were not significantly different than controls.
Conclusions: Patients with AD are susceptible to a variety of oral health problems, and progression of AD can lead to a deterioration in oral health and function. These patients require aggressive preventive care to maintain function for as long as possible, which necessitates close cooperation among numerous health care professionals.