Gum Disease & Alzheimer’s Connection

Posted on Aug 01, 2013 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

If you don’t have a family member who has Alzheimer’s Disease, chances are, you know someone who does. This dreaded disease robs its victims of precious memories and loving relationships in their twilight years. Eventually, even routine functions such as dressing and feeding themselves become foreign. Could there be a worse fate for those we love? For ourselves?

British researchers now suggest that the same bacteria of gum disease is linked to the brains of people with Alzheimer’s Disease. The particular type of bacteria was found in 4 out of 10 brain tissue samples from Alzheimer’s patients, with no signs of the type found in 10 brains of similar age adults without dementia.

It has long been known, through prior research, that oral bacteria can become bloodborne in the body via tears in diseased gum tissue. This particular gum disease bacteria apparently enters the bloodstream and settles in at other parts of the body, including the brain, according to the study’s results (published recently in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease).

Eventually, the bacteria produce chemicals, which build up and contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s. While the progress of this research is exciting in showing an association of oral bacteria and Alzheimer’s Disease, there is still much work to do. This study does not show how these these bacteria get to the brain, so it’s back to the drawing board for the brilliant research minds!

Remember – your oral hygiene at home is only part of the process necessary to keep a healthy mouth. Your six-month cleanings and exams include the removal of plaque build-up, which is essentially hardened bacteria. If not removed, this will develop into gum disease. You may be saving more than your smile!

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