In a recent study, researchers have reported to have found that a bacterium largely responsible for gum disease, also contributes to the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Bacteria that cause gum disease have been associated as a cause of dementia.
Here is what you need to know.
As per data from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, 8.52% of adults between 20-64 years of age in the USA have periodontitis or gum disease.
New evidence suggests that one of the bacteria involved in periodontitis, could also contribute to the accumulation of toxic proteins inyour brain, which scientists have linked with the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
These findings have emerged from a new study in mice that researchers from Cortexyme, Inc., a pharmaceutical company that aims in developing new therapeutics for Alzheimer’s disease, have done.
The results of the research with the lead author, Dr. Stephen Dominy, Cortexyme co-founder, appeared in the journal Science Advances.
What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease, or what is known as gingivitis in its mild form, happens when bacteria accumulate in tooth plaque, therefore, causing inflammation, bleeding and receding gums. If it progresses to the more serious form, or what is known as periodontitis, it can lead to tooth loss and abscesses.
What is the Bacterium That Boosts Brain Toxicity?
The key bacteria that cause gum disease, Porphyromonas gingivalis, may also be the root cause of Alzheimer’s disease, which is a form of dementia.
Porphyromonas gingivalis, which is a Gram-negative oral anaerobe drives the development of gum disease.
Also, P. gingivalis, the researchers noted, appeared in the brains of individuals who doctors have diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, which left the investigators intrigued.
What Steps Should You Do to Prevent Gum Disease?
Researchers are working on a vaccine, and also on a specific anti-toxin for P. gingivalis, but these are years away from reaching the clinic. So, until then, your best option is taking the usual steps to avoid gum disease.
Steps to Avoid Gum Disease:
Listen to your dentist, for a start. Dentist advise cleaning your teeth at least twice a day, and flossing or using interdental sticks to get the plaque out from the gaps. Too vigorous brushing can get some oral bacteria into the bloodstream, therefore, take it easy.
But if plaque has already build-up, it can become mineralised, therefore, turning into hard tartar, which encourages the growth of more plaque towards the tooth roots.
If tartar has already taken hold on your teeth, it must be scraped off at the dentist. According to the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care excellence, it is advisable to see your dentist at intervals ranging from 3 months to 2 years, depending on the state of your teeth and some health factors.
Also, all the usual general health advice can be applied here. Smoking can make gum disease worse, and also harder to treat. Also, a healthy diet and exercise regime reduces low-level chronic inflammation. It is not a coincidence that general physical ill-health makes Alzheimer’s worse.
Gum disease is very common, and as per the UK’s National Health Service, most adults have it to some extent, but, not everyone ends up with Alzheimer’s. There’s still much that we do not understand, but, it could be a question of how much bacteria are present, or how good your body is fighting them.
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