Gum diseases and their links to Alzheimer’s disease
Studies have shown that there is a strong link between gum (periodontal) disease and global health. Until recently, infectious agents of oral bacteria had been discovered in the brains of patients suffering with Alzheimer disease, but without establishing a cause-effect relationship.
However in January 2019, a major research concluded that porphyromonas gingivalis, the bacteria most frequently found in periodontal diseases, has a direct causal impact on AD. The six-month long study on patients with AD shows a more significant deterioration in cognition for patients with gum diseases than for those without gum diseases.
Researchers found traces of the bacteria p. gingivalis (its DNA) and its toxins (gingipains) in brains of patients with AD.
They also found that mice, artificially infected with p. gingivalis in the laboratory, in addition to developing periodontal disease, (bone loss, alveolar loss, inflammation and bleeding of the gums), show infection to the brain with marked impairment of cognitive function (like what we find in patients with AD).
The research is very promising. The discovery of a molecule that prevents gingipains from attacking nerve cells in the brain is currently being tested with mice, and showing conclusive results (reduction of inflammation, infection and neurodegeneration). Perhaps we will soon be able to delay the onset of the disease or reduce its progression.
In my next blog, I will discuss ways to reduce the presence of bacteria, such as p. gingivalis and others, that we find in gum disease .