Brushing and flossing daily may dramatically cut down the risk of Alzheimer’s, according to a new study.
Scientists in Britain report finding signs of bacteria created by gun-disease in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. The new study add to a precipitately increasing body of evidence that strongly links periodontal disease to a significant increased risk of memory plundering disorder. Porphyromonas gingivalis, the byproducts of this bacterium were found the brain samples of 4 out of 10 Alzheimer’s patients, but not in the samples from 10 individuals of similar age without dementia, according to the study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease 1.
Inflammation of the Gums Proliferates Alzheimer’s Risk
Porphyromonas gingivalis is commonly found in individuals with chronic gum disease, which can enter the blood stream through daily activities such as eating, brushing, and invasive dental procedures, and from there, potentially make its way to the brain.
Chronic inflammation of the gums affects nearly 50% of American adults over the age of 30, and 70% of seniors 65 and older.
Oral bacteria Harms the Brain
The latest British study adds to a 2012 study in which 158 cognitively normal people were checked for antibodies to gum disease bacteria in their blood.
Those with the antibodies were more likely to develop Alzheimer’s or cognitive impairments in later years than those without the antibodies. Gum disease could potentially contribute to Alzheimer’s onset/progression, the researchers concluded.
What’s the link between oral bacteria and memory loss? “One theory is that these pathogens may generate inflammation in brain cells involved in Alzheimer’s, such as the glial cells,” says Bradley Bale, MD 2 , medical director of the Heart Health Program at Grace Clinic in Lubbock, Texas.
“One of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease is activated glial cells, with high levels of inflammatory molecules that lead to nerve cell damage and destruction,” adds Dr. Bale.
A Healthy Mouth Reduces Dementia Risk
Smile Senior Care says a toothbrush can be a powerful weapon against Alzheimer’s 3. California researchers tracked 5,468 seniors over an 18-year period and found that those who didn’t brush daily were up to 65 percent more likely to develop dementia than those who brushed three times a day.
To keep your teeth—and possibly your brain—in excellent health, follow these tips from Dr. Bale:
- Brush at least twice a day, in the morning and at bedtime. Dr. Bale recommends using an electronic toothbrush for two minutes and fluoride toothpaste.
- Be sure to brush both the back and front of each tooth, along with your gums and tongue.
- Floss at least once a day, being sure to wrap the floss around each tooth to remove debris and bacteria. An oral irrigator, such as Waterpik, can also be helpful for cleaning between the teeth.
- Know the symptoms of gum disease and alert your dentist if you have any of them. The leading warning sign is bleeding when you brush or floss. Others include red, puffy or tender gums, loose teeth, pus between your gums and teeth, and a change in your bite (how your teeth fit together), any of which should warrant a prompt dental checkup.
- Visit your dentist at least twice a year for a checkup and professional cleaning. Even if you don’t have any symptoms of gum disease, the checkup should include measuring the pockets between your teeth, which is done painlessly with a dental probe. In the early stages, gum disease may not cause any obvious symptoms.
- Avoid smoking, which greatly increases risk for gum disease.