Alzheimer’s disease and dementia is one struggle that a lot of elderly people face and experts have mostly linked genetic dispositions to sufferers. However, new research says their may be a link between your oral health and Alzheimer’s.
If you are one of those that hasn’t seen your dentist lately, you might want to consider doing so as taking care of your teeth and gums might just save your brain.
Your dentist knows a lot more about your health than just the state of your gums and teeth. Just by examining your mouth, your dentist can detect signs of Crohn’s disease and oral cancer.
A new research conducted at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) suggests your dentist may even be able to predict, and possibly diagnose, Alzheimer’s disease based on the health of your gums.
Chronic periodontitis which is more commonly known as gum disease, and is the most common type of periodontitis, is caused by plaque buildup and involves slow deterioration of the gums, destruction of the adjacent bones, and tooth loss.
Symptoms of chronic periodontitis include gum swelling, discoloured, bleeding, and sensitive gums, as well as bad breath and pain chewing. The condition is however treatable and preventable.
A number of other studies saw investigators link periodontitis and dementia. To ascertain the connection between the two, researchers, at the UIC College of Dentistry and the University of Melbourne in Victoria infected mice with the bacteria responsible for periodontitis.
After 22 weeks, the researchers examined the mice’s brains. Their results, published in the journal, PLOS ONE, revealed that the brain tissue of the mice exhibited the damage that is seen in Alzheimer’s patients. This included inflammation, degeneration of neurons, and the buildup of a substance called beta-amyloid plaque.
The discovery was a big surprise to the researchers as they did not expect that the periodontal pathogen would have the level of influence it did on the brain, or that the effects would be as similar as it is with Alzheimer’s disease.
And what makes the findings particularly powerful is that the study used a wild-type mouse, which is not primed to develop Alzheimer’s.
The study concluded that the bacteria that causes gum disease may kick-start the development of Alzheimer’s. And understanding potential causes is crucial for developing treatments. In addition, the researchers say there is so much people can do for their personal health by taking oral health seriously.