Good oral hygiene is just part of being a polished human. We never think about it it is just part of our daily routine.
Now, however, new research from the University of Bergen is making an important case for brushing your teeth properly. The study has found a correlation between gum disease (gingivitis) and Alzheimer´s disease.
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The data is so strong that the researchers have revealed that gum disease plays a key role in whether a person develops Alzheimer´s or not. It is also the first time ever that DNA-proof has been provided for this relationship.
"We discovered DNA-based proof that the bacteria causing gingivitis can move from the mouth to the brain," said researcher Piotr Mydel at Broegelmanns Research Laboratory, Department of Clinical Science, University of Bergen (UiB).
It turns out that this pesky bacteria does not only affect bad breath. Instead, it produces a protein that destroys nerve cells in the brain.
Never cell destruction is a key component of memory loss and therefore Alzheimer's. The researchers do outline that it is not the bacteria alone that causes the degenerative disorder.
However, the presence of these bacteria not only raises the risk for developing the disease substantially, it also results in a more rapid progression of the disease.
Previous studies had already indicated that the bacteria causing gingivitis can move from the mouth to the brain. They also found that once there the bacteria excreted harmful enzymes that could destroy the nerve cells in the brain.
Now, for the first time ever, Mydel has produced DNA-evidence for this process. Mydel and his team examined 53 patients with Alzheimer´s and discovered the harmful toxic enzyme in 96% of the cases.
Working on a drug to block the enzymes
Mydel and colleagues are working on a drug to thwart this dangerous process. "We have managed to develop a drug that blocks the harmful enzymes from the bacteria, postponing the development of Alzheimer´s. We are planning to test this drug later this year," said Mydel.
Luckily, in the meantime, there are things you can do to fight gingivitis. "Brush your teeth and use floss," said Mydel.
It seems so simple and yet this daily routine has life-changing implications. The researcher further notes that if you have gingivitis and a history of Alzheimer's you should go to the dentist more often to clean your teeth.
The study is published in the journal Science Advances.
We know we definitely will be taking oral hygiene more seriously. How about you?