A clean mouth and gums may prevent Alzheimer’s disease according to a study published January 23, 2019 in Science Advances. Researchers from the University of Bergen in Norway have discovered that gum disease (gingivitis) is strongly associated with the development of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The researchers found DNA-based proof that gum disease may determine whether or not someone will develop Alzheimer’s disease.
Gum Disease Bacteria Found in Brains of Patients who Had Died from Alzheimer’s
The researchers found Porphyromonas gingivalis, the gum disease bacteria that causes chronic periodontitis or gingivitis in the brains of patients who had died from Alzheimer’s disease. In other words, the bacteria that cause gum disease can move from the mouth to the brain, according to Piotr Mydel at Broegelmanns Research Laboratory, Department of Clinical Science, University of Bergen (UiB).
Gum Disease Bacteria Produces Protein that Destroys Neurons (nerve cells) in the Brain
The gum disease bacteria produce a protein enzyme that can destroy neurons (nerve cells) in the brain. This destruction of neurons raises the risk for memory loss and Alzheimer’s. However, taking good care of your teeth, using floss can help to prevent this. The researchers say that if someone does have diagnosed gingivitis they must go to their dentist regularly and clean and floss the teeth properly.
Harmful Enzyme Discovered in 96% of Alzheimer’s Participants in the Study
The researchers examined 53 people with Alzheimer’s and discovered the enzyme in 96% of them.
New Drug can Block Toxic Enzymes
Based on the results of their research, the scientists have developed a drug from small-molecule inhibitors that can block the toxic enzymes produced by the gum disease bacteria and are planning to test this new drug later this year. Hopefully, this drug will prove to be effective and safe because oral antibiotics are not able to treat gum disease.
Gum disease also called periodontal disease is an infection of the guns that actually can spread to the bones that support the teeth. In severe cases this can lead to the teeth falling out. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people who smoke or chew tobacco are at an increased risk of developing gum disease. Also, according to the CDC, diabetics are at an increased risk for developing gingivitis and complications from it, as diabetics suffer from impaired wound healing.
Prevalence of gum Disease in the United States
According to the Journal of Dental Research about 64.7 million adult Americans suffer from gum disease. Currently about 5.7 million Americans, mainly seniors, are afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease. If gum disease turns out to be one of the leading causes of Alzheimer’s, then the numbers of Alzheimer’s cases could reach terrible rates. Fortunately, gum disease can be treated and healed, especially if people quit smoking or chewing tobacco and practice scrupulous cleaning of the teeth. It is really important for people to go at least once a year for an annual dental exam.
Choose a Rehab or Skilled Nursing Facility that has Dental Care
The Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Syracuse, New York offers expert care at the hands of a caring staff and there is a consultant dentist available to their qualified medical staff.
It certainly pays to pay attention to our dental health in order to prevent losing teeth and also to prevent an increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Don’t pass up your annual dental exam.