We have touched on connections between oral health and Alzheimer’s disease before, yet felt the need to re-touch on the subject again. Nearly 5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s, and with aging of baby boom generation, the number of cases is expected to increase 70 percent by 2020.Now that the movie Still Alice has shined a light on Alzheimer’s disease, the time to show the oral health connection to Alzheimer’s disease seemed appropriate.
In 2013, a study published in Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found a link between Alzheimer’s disease and oral bacteria. Researchers analyzed brain samples from 10 people with Alzheimer’s and 10 people without the brain disease and found gum disease-related bacteria in the brain samples from four of the 10 Alzheimer’s patients. No such bacteria was found in the brain samples from people without Alzheimer’s.
“This clearly shows that there is an association between oral bacteria and Alzheimer’s disease, but not causal association,” study author Lakshmyya Kesavalu, an associate professor in the College of Dentistry at the University of Florida, said in a university news release.
Bacteria in the mouth can enter the bloodstream during chewing, brushing, flossing and dental procedures. The bacteria can travel in the blood to the brain and can potentially lead to brain tissue degeneration that appears similar to Alzheimer’s, the researchers said.
Another study followed 109 pairs of identical twins in Sweden to find any lifestyle factors associated with developing dementia. This study found that twins who had periodontal disease earlier in life were four times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s. Researchers believe gum disease is a sign of inflammation, which may play a role in the destruction of brain cells. (http://health.usnews.com/)
In 2010 NYU dental researchers have found long-term evidence that gum disease may increase the risk of cognitive dysfunction associated with Alzheimer’s disease in healthy individuals as well as in those who already are cognitively impaired. “The research suggests that cognitively normal subjects with periodontal inflammation are at an increased risk of lower cognitive function compared to cognitively normal subjects with little or no periodontal inflammation,” Dr. Kamer said. (nyu.edu)
The evidence in mounting, there is a link between Alzheimer’s disease and oral bacteria. Though the research is on going the results are undeniable. Keeping your gums healthy effects more that just your smile, your cognitive abilities.