There has been a lot of research about Alzheimer’s disease, the past few years, and the most recent suggests that the best way to prevent the condition is to brush your teeth. Indeed, the study says proper dental care—as a whole—can reduce Alzheimer’s risk; and more specifically, scientists are saying that gingivitis appears to play a role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
Gingivitis, of course, is a gum disease that develops out of a lack of basic [twice] daily brushing and flossing. Lack of proper dental hygiene allows for plaque to build up on the teeth. Plaque is a naturally-occurring sticky film substance that contains bacteria that can cause inflammation of gum tissues. Furthermore, plaque produces toxins that can irritate the gums.
With that, researcher Piotr Mydel, of Norway’s University of Bergen Broegelmanns Research Laboratory, notes, “We discovered DNA-based proof that the bacteria causing gingivitis can move from the mouth to the brain.”
This bacteria is called Porphyromonas gingivalis (P.gingivalis) is one of the most common causes of acute gum infection. It can also cause chronic infection of the gums but, for the purpose of this study, it can also move into the brain, where it can damage nerve cells in the brain.
The bacteria that builds up in plaque produces enzymes that actually brain down nerve cells in the brain. This can eventually lead to memory issues, in the short term, and Alzheimer’s, in the long term. Sure enough, Mydel’s team found that these enzymes were present in 96 percent in the 53 patients who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
It has been determined that around 50 percent of the population likely has at least one form of this bacteria. On top of this, 10 percent of those who have this bacteria are quite likely to develop serious gum disease and tooth loss and are more likely to be at risk developing Alzheimer’s.
And, on that note, Mydel explains the team has also developed a drug that inhibits the harmful bacterial enzymes. This, he says, postpones Alzheimer’s development. Furthermore, the researchers are planning to test this drug before the end of the year.
In the meantime, though, Mydel takes this opportunity to remind everyone to brush and floss your teeth. This is an easy way we can all control our potential risk for Alzheimer’s disease.