Brushing Up On Health

Oral Hygiene Can Block Dementia

New research indicates gum disease bacteria may play a role in Alzheimer's disease.

By John Salak –

No one argues about the importance of great oral hygiene. Now the University of Bergen is taking the point further by reporting that brushing your teeth and flossing regularly can help offset the devastating impacts of Alzheimer’s Disease.

The university’s researchers have discovered a link between gingivitis (gum disease) and the chances of developing Alzheimer’s. Specifically, the university has identified “DNA-based proof” that the bacteria that causes gingivitis can gravitate from the mouth to the brain and that this bacteria destroys nerve cells that results in memory loss and Alzhimer’s.

The research underscores that bacteria by itself is not causing Alzheimer’s but rather it is raising the risk of the disease taking hold and progressing rapidly.

Fortunately, something as simple as brushing your teeth and flossing is an excellent way to offset gum disease. The study also recommends that individuals already suffering from gingivitis or who have a family history of Alzheimer’s should go to their dentist and have their teeth cleaned regularly.

Researchers had already known that the bacteria in question could move from the mouth to the brain but the University of Bergen was able to collect DNA evidence of this process from individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s. The research is now expected to help the development and testing of new drugs that can block the transfer of the harmful bacteria.

In related news, the University of Leipzig is also making headway in being able to assess how antihypertensive clinical drugs trials are performing in their battle against dementia. The university’s full report won’t be ready until later this year. However, it is hoped that researchers may be able to use data from clinical practices to judge how various drugs can delay or reduce the impact of dementia.

The authors of the pending study recently underscored the potential importance of their work. Dr. Jens Bohlken, MD, PhD, noted, “In view of this, our most important task is to find existing therapies that are associated with a reduction in dementia risk or at least an extension of the time to dementia onset.”

Prof. Karel Kostev, PhD, added, “Antihypertensive therapy alone cannot guarantee that dementia will never occur. “However, these findings highlight the importance of the prescription of antihypertensive drugs in the context of preventing hypertension-associated cognitive decline.”



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