Gum Disease and Alzheimer’s: What’s the Connection?
In the study, brain tissue of patients who died from Alzheimer’s disease were examined in detail. In many cases, researchers discovered a bacteria called Porphyromonas Gingivalis, one of the primary bacterias that causes gum disease, in the brain tissue. Additionally, the same Porphyromonas Gingivalis bacteria was discovered within spinal fluid taken from living Alzheimer’s sufferers.
Porphyromonas Gingivalis produces toxic enzymes, known as gingipains, that also appeared in a number of the brain tissue samples. Interestingly, the brains of the patients who had the most Alzheimer’s-linked proteins were the ones that had the gingipains.
Animal Studies: Further Support for the Gum Disease-Alzheimer’s Connection
These human results are remarkable for several reasons, with one of the most important ones being that they seem to support previous research on animal subjects. In studies on mice, a similar connection appeared between Porphyromonas Gingivalis and Alzheimer’s disease. In these studies, the gum tissue of healthy mice is exposed to Porphyromonas Gingivalis. Later, the same bacteria is found in their brains.
Also supporting the Alzheimer’s disease connection was the brain damage found in the subject mice. The affected mice had damaged neurons as well as elevated levels of a specific type of protein that combines to create plaques in the brains of Alzheimer’s disease sufferers.
Does This Mean a Possible Treatment For Alzheimer’s?
Could this mean a possible cure for Alzheimer’s? Maybe, but much more research needs to be done to fully understand how gum disease and other infections play a role in Alzheimer’s development. One thing is certain, though: Guarding against gum disease is a smart practice for your whole-body health. It’s long been known that untreated gum disease can have dire health consequences, including heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and stroke.
With the animal studies, some encouraging news regarding possible Alzheimer’s treatment is underway. A specific molecule, when introduced into the mice brain tissue infected with Porphyromonas Gingivalis, actually prevents gingipains growth and lessens neuron damage. Researchers who conducted the study theorized that introducing the blocking molecule is effective because it prevents the bacteria from getting the nutrients it needs to grow. Clinical trials to test a similar molecule in human subjects are already underway, which means great hope for Alzheimer’s sufferers.
How to Avoid Gum Disease
The good news is that it’s very easy to avoid gum disease if you practice good oral health habits and attend your checkups and teeth cleanings as scheduled. Brush well twice a day, floss thoroughly every night, and do your best to avoid too many sugary foods.
As long as you make an effort to keep your teeth free of plaque and tartar, you’re doing a great job in guarding against gum disease. Not only is good oral health great for whole-body health, but one day it might just help you avoid Alzheimer’s disease as well.
Avoid Alzheimer’s At Artistic Touch Dentistry
Artistic Touch Dentistry is well known in the Melbourne, Florida area for their high-quality dental care for all ages. Dr. Maryam Brazdo and the Artistic Touch team offer checkups, cosmetic dentistry, restorative dentistry such as dentures, and periodontal disease treatments for gum disease, along with all the other care that you and your family need.