It’s well-known that gum disease rarely only affects the gums. Like any other bacterial infection, gum disease can easily spread throughout the mouth or even into the nasal cavity and into the rest of the body. This is one of many reasons why your Cedar Park general dentistry clinic will strongly urge you to have regular Teeth cleanings to prevent gum disease.
However, studies earlier this year have suggested that the dangers of gum disease are far more insidious and long-lasting than ever suspected. In particular, a study published in the journal Science Advances has drawn a direct link between gum disease and Alzheimer’s disease!
While research is ongoing, they make a compelling case.
How Gum Disease May Contribute to Alzheimer’s
The exact causes of Alzheimer’s are somewhat mysterious, with research continually underway trying to determine the factors that cause it. One issue that had been noted is that there seemed to be an excess buildup of toxins in the brain, particularly a toxic protein known as beta-amyloid.
It is not currently known whether beta-amyloid buildup is a cause of Alzheimer’s or a side effect, but there is an association.
In turn, several other proteins and bacteria have been associated with a buildup of beta-amyloid. This includes one known as Porphyromonas gingivalis… one of the bacteria from which gingivitis gets its name! In particular, the presence of P. gingivalis leads to the creation of a toxic enzyme called gingipains, and gingipains is already linked with the formation of beta-amyloid.
Having noticed this, it was easy for researchers to start to wonder whether P. gingivalis gum infections were becoming a source for gingipains, which then turned into beta-amyloid.
This led to a series of mice experiments. The mice were given experimental serums designed to reduce gingipain formation. Through the use of these new formulations, the researchers were able to concretely reduce the buildup of P. gingivalis in the mice’s brains, which also reduced inflammation of their brains.
Now, a trial is ongoing with human patients, to see if they get the same results.
Healthy Gums Do Lead to A Healthier Body
Undoubtedly, there are more contributors to Alzheimer’s disease than just gum disease, but this is very clear evidence that gum disease can help encourage dementia later in life. That’s just one more reason you and your family need a great Cedar Park general dentistry clinic to keep your gums free of disease!
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