Gingivitis (gum disease) has previously been linked to a higher risk of heart disease, but a study published in January 2019 has revealed that the bacteria that cause gingivitis may also be connected to Alzheimer’s disease.
Scientists have previously discovered that that particular species of bacteria, Porphyromonas gingivalis, is capable of moving from the mouth to the brain. Once the bacteria are in the brain, they release enzymes known as gingipains. These enzymes can destroy nerve cells, which in turn can lead to memory loss, and eventually Alzheimer’s.
In the 2019 study, the researchers looked for evidence of this process within human brains. They examined the brains of 53 deceased people who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and discovered high levels of gingipain in almost all of them. They also found that the amount of gingipain tended to rise over time, which suggests there could be a tipping point where dementia symptoms start.
The next step in this area of research is to see if a drug can be used to block the gingipain and possibly slow the progression of Alzheimer’s or even stop it from developing.
Until then, it is advisable to continue keeping up with strong oral health habits, including daily flossing, brushing twice a day, and getting regular dental check-ups.Tags: alzheimer's