As if you needed another reason to keep your gums as healthy as possible.
Scientists have found a connection between a bacteria that causes periodontitis (advanced gum disease) and Alzheimer’s Disease.
Porphyomonas gingivalis is a bacteria that often leads to chronic periodontitis. The bacteria was discovered in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. Inflammation from gingivitis can lead to tooth loss, and studies have shown that people with fewer teeth are more likely to have dementia.
In lab research, the Porphyromonas gingivalis bacteria that can cause gum disease was given to mice. The mice developed the protein tangles and neural damage typically seen in Alzheimer’s patients.
The research study, “Porphyromonas gingivalis in Alzheimer’s disease brains: Evidence for disease causation and treatment with small-molecule inhibitors,” can be found at Science Advances.
The researchers concluded:
“Chronic periodontitis and infection with Porphyomonas gingivalis have been identified as significant risk factors for developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.”
Periodontal disease, also called gum disease, is inflammation or infection of the gums. For the most part, periodontal disease is preventable.
Risk factors for periodontal disease include tobacco use, poor oral hygiene, genetics, teeth grinding, inflammatory conditions, and poor nutrition.
This study should dispel the misconception that oral health is somehow separate from physical health.
Clinical trials are now underway testing a drug that blocks the main toxins of P. gingivalis, with the hope that it will stop and even reverse Alzheimer’s disease. As always, research scientists are proceeding with caution, since Alzheimer’s disease was previously thought to be inherited.
Whether or not gingivitis leads to Alzheimer’s, the good news is that gingivitis is reversible with good oral hygiene at home and regular cleanings by dental professionals. This is one more thing to think about as you floss your teeth daily.
It is important to see your dentist regularly to keep your gums healthy (as well as your teeth). To schedule a periodontal disease exam, call Cary Family Dental today at 919-371-4428 or visit our website to learn about our many general and cosmetic dentistry offerings, including dental implants, veneers and teeth whitening.