Stunning new research has found a potential link between gum disease and the development of Alzheimer’s disease. While this is not a ‘causal’ element, we have reason to believe gum disease plays an important role in Alzheimer’s onset and progression.
Gum disease, also known as gingivitis is marked by inflammation of the gums and bleeding when brushing or flossing. It is completely manageable and preventable with proper oral hygiene habits. However, if not corrected, gingivitis can lead to tooth attachment loss. Once there is loss of bone and attachment, gingivitis is referred to as periodontitis. We have known for a while now that the main culprit of periodontitis is a bacterium called Porphyromonas gingivalis.
You may be wondering what this has to do with Alzheimer’s disease, which is a progressive neurodegenerative brain disorder, and the most common form of dementia. A recent paper published in Science Advances details the role Porphyromonas gingivalis plays in driving Alzheimer’s pathology. The study shows that this same bacteria that causes gum disease also attacks brain neurons ultimately leading to the memory loss seen in Alzheimer’s.
Dominy, S.S., et al. “Porphyromonas gingivalis in Alzheimer’s disease brains: Evidence for disease causation and treatment with small-molecule inhibitors” ScienceAdvances. 23 Jan 2019: Vol. 5, no. 1, eaau3333. DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aau3333