June 12th, 2019
A new study has linked good oral health to a significant reduction in the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers from the University of Bergen, Norway, discovered that gum disease plays a major role in determining the level of risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Dr Piotr Mydel, from the research team, explained that during trials, DNA-based proof that confirmed that harmful bacteria can travel from the mouth to the brain was established. Bacteria that are associated with gum disease produce a specific protein, which destroys nerve cells within the brain and affects the memory. Ultimately, this chain of events puts people at greater risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
The strain of bacteria in question, P.gingivalis (Porphyromonas gingivalis) is one of the primary causes of advanced gum disease and gum infections. It can cause long-term infections within the mouth, but research shows that it can also travel to the brain, where it damages the nerve cells. Approximately 50% of the population has this strain of bacteria, and around 10% are at risk of gum disease, infections, and according to this study, Alzheimer’s disease.
Dr Mydel argued that the findings of the study do not suggest that the presence of bacteria is causative, but rather that the bacteria significantly increases the risk of Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s is one of the most common conditions in older people and it causes progressive loss of memory in addition to confusion and a gradual loss of the ability to recognise people and live independently.
The advice from researchers is to look after your teeth and gums, to see a dentist on a regular basis and to ensure you seek professional advice if you spot signs of gum disease, including bleeding gums, swelling, pain and increased tenderness in the gums.
January 30th, 2019
Most of us know that brushing and flossing can help to keep our smiles sparkling, but did you know that caring for your gums could also help to reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease?
Previous studies have linked gum disease to an elevated risk of Alzheimer’s, but new research has shed light on the connection between oral health and the progressive neurological condition. Researchers have found traces of bacteria linked to advanced gum disease, known as Porphyromonas gingivalis, in the brains of people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
Tests conducted on mice revealed that it was possible for these strains of bacteria to travel around the body to the brain, and flagged toxic proteins secreted by this specific form of bacteria. This protein, known as gingipain, destroys neurons in the brain tissue. The presence of the bacteria also accelerated the production of amyloid beta, a form of plaque, which is connected to Alzheimer’s.
After discovering the bacteria, scientists analysed the impact of drugs used to inhibit the toxic proteins in mice, and found that they stopped neural degeneration.
The study authors suggested that the research highlighted the connection between specific strains of bacteria and gum disease and provided an insight into new treatment options. In light of the study findings, the team has developed a new drug, which they are hoping to test on humans as part of a clinical trial later in the year.
Prof Tara Spires-Jones, from the UK Dementia Research Institute, which is based at the University of Edinburgh, said that the drug trials involving mice provided positive news. She also added that it would be interesting to see the results of the human drug trials that are due to take place later this year.