New research has emerged to suggest that gum (periodontal) disease could be a credible factor in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. A study carried out in the US and published in Science Advances outlines how the bacteria Porphyromonas gingivalis, which is associated with gum disease, has been found in the brains of patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
Tests carried out on mice demonstrated that the bacteria spread from the mouth to the brain, destroying nerve cells in its path. Later this year, a research team from a San Francisco drugs firm will carry out a human trial to consolidate the reliability of this test. Another test, carried out at the University of Central Lancashire, concluded that when harmful bacteria enters the bloodstream and reaches the brain, a response is triggered by the immune system, as is the case of the mouth, and this causes symptoms such as confusion and memory problems characteristic of Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimer’s and links to other conditions
Historic research has shown that other types of bacteria and the herpes type 1 virus can also be found in the brains of Alzheimer’s sufferers. Cardiovascular disease can also increase a person’s risk of Alzheimer’s, though there is a long-term connection between gum disease and cardiovascular disease which suggests many different routes all pointing to one destination. Scientists are carrying out ongoing research to establish a tangible connection, however, there is an argument that those with Alzheimer’s may suffer a rapid decline in their oral hygiene and health due to the fact that they are less able to look after themselves in this respect.
New drug being tested
As well as the conclusive tests that are being carried out later this year, a is currently being tested on humans in clinical trials to see whether the bacteria causing memory deterioration in the brain can be halted.
Lifestyle habits such as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, certain medications and pregnancy can all contribute to the development of gum disease. Remember to attend regular hygienist appointments in order to maintain healthy gums and avoid long-term wider health issues such as those outlined above. Hygienists are experts in gum health and can offer tailored advice where brushing and flossing techniques are concerned and carry out scale and polish treatments to remove unhealthy bacteria build-up coating your tooth enamel.