11 Jun Bacteria Found in Oral Cavities Linked to Alzheimer’s Disease
Most people associate oral health with a pretty smile, but a new study from the School of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) suggests that poor oral hygiene could increase a person’s risk of contracting the debilitating mental disease known as Alzheimer’s. The research conducted by Dr. Sim Singhrao and Professor St. John Crean found that the bacterium Porphyromonas gingivalis was present in brain samples taken from dementia patients. P. gingivalis has been previous found in the colon, respiratory tract and gastrointestinal tract, but is most associated with various types of periodontal (gum) disease.
The P. gingivalis bacterium is known to enter the bloodstream from infected gums and cavities through the actions of chewing and brushing teeth with the largest ingestion occurring after invasive treatments for dental problems. It has been proposed by the researchers that as P. gingivalis regularly enters the brain, it triggers a response from the immune system. The large doses of chemicals released to fight the bacterium appear to kill neurons which can cause significant changes in the functioning of the brain. If the P. gingivalis bacterium is left untreated to grow and detach from infected cavities and gums into the blood stream, it can cause symptoms of memory deterioration and confusion and eventually lead to Alzheimer’s disease.
This finding by the researchers at UCLan builds on previous 2010 findings of research conducted at New York University which provided evidence that Alzheimer’s disease risk was heightened through links to those suffering from gum inflammation and gum disease. A further study conducted at the University of New Mexico suggested that Alzheimer’s could also be linked to Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) which is the cause of cold sores around the mouth.
Research into the link between P. gingivalis and Alzheimer’s disease continues at UCLan. It is hoped that a blood test can be eventually conducted to reveal markers which can be preliminary indicators of the development of Alzheimer’s in those at higher risk due to poor dental health.
This finding adds weight to the importance of maintaining good dental hygiene practices as well as making regular dental appointments to ensure top oral health. Protecting your smile is a top priority in the pursuit of good dental health, but protecting yourself from memory loss, dementia and the debilitating disease of Alzheimer’s significantly raises the priority bar.
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The University of Central Lancashire. “Poor dental health may lead to Alzheimer’s, study suggests.” Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 31 Jul. 2013. Web.
4 Jun. 2014. <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/264110>