Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Alzheimers Disease Linked to Gum Infections

If you are concerned about reducing your risk of Alzheimer's Disease as you age, see your dentist regularly.  Researchers have known for some time that general inflammation in the body could be connected to Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia.  More recently, researchers reported in the journal "Science Advances" in January, 2019 that inflammation caused specifically by gum disease may also be linked to Alzheimer's Disease.  At the same time, gum disease inflammation is also known to be a risk factor for heart disease, so failing to care for your teeth puts you at double risk. More and more, we are learning that dementia does not develop in a vacuum.  It is a result of the general care we give our minds and bodies.

Oral Bacteria Linked to Alzheimer's

The research on periodontal or gum disease and its link to Alzheimer's was performed by Dr. Stephen Dominy and Casey Lynch, the founders of the pharmaceutical firm Cortexyme.  They discovered the presence of the bacteria Porphyromonas gingivalis, known as Pg, in 50 out of 53 brains of Alzheimer's patients they autopsied.  Pg is the cause of periodontitis, which leads to chronic inflammation and tooth loss.  Discovering the presence of this oral bacteria in the brains of Alzheimer's patients is a major breakthrough and could lead to treatments to reduce the risk of developing this serious form of dementia.

Can Bacterial Pg be Blocked from Entering the Brain?

Without getting too deep into the science, the researchers were able to use small molecules to target Pg in mice, enabling them to reduce brain degeneration.  However, the research is extremely early, which means it could be a decade or longer before a medication could be designed to protect human brains from the consequences of gun disease.  Much more research, as well as large clinical trials, will need to be completed before a protective treatment can be released to the public.

Protect Your Brain - Take Care of Your Teeth and Gums

In addition to the research done by Dominy and Lynch, other researchers have discovered that Alzheimer's patients who are diagnosed with oral infections often develop more intense cognitive decline during the following six months, when compared to patients who do are not diagnosed with gum disease.

Whether or not the bacteria which cause gum disease are also one of the causes of Alzheimer's Disease, everyone who wants to avoid this debilitating form of dementia would be wise to brush their teeth twice a day, floss daily, and visit their dentist every three to six months for a thorough cleaning.  Patients should also follow the recommendations of their dentist to prevent periodontal disease.  In some cases, this may involved gum surgery or other treatments. 

If you use good oral hygiene in addition to following other recommended aspects of brain health, you will be doing everything researchers suggest in order to avoid or postpone dementia.

The other tips for maintaining good brain health, often referred to as The Six Pillars of Brain Health, are: 

Getting frequent physical exercise
Eating the MIND diet
Having fun with stimulating brain exercises
Getting plenty of sleep and relaxation
Socializing with others
Taking care of your general physical health.

If you are unsure how to follow the MIND diet, read  The MIND Diet Plan and Cookbook.  (Ad) You will find that it is similar to the Mediterranean diet, with many delicious and easy to prepare meals.

If you want to find some stimulating brain exercises, you may also be interested in brain game books (Ad) to regularly give yourself a mental workout.

If you are interested in learning more about dealing with common health problems as we age, where to retire in the US and overseas, financial planning, Social Security, Medicare, and more, use the tabs or pull-down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional articles on this blog.

You are reading from the blog:  http://www.baby-boomer-retirement.com

Photo credit:  Google images - Dental care in Mexico - Yucatan Times


  1. Wow protecting your teeth and gums I didn't know this great post

    1. Yes, it is amazing how taking care of our teeth and gums also means we are taking care of our heart and brain. I think a lot of us were surprised by this information. Thanks for commenting!

  2. Who would have thought taking care of your teeth would help you in the long run to prevent alzheimers disease. We should be taking care of everything treating our body as a temple. Eat our food as our medicine so when we are older we are not replacing medicine because of our food habits.


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