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Explaining The Link Between Poor Oral Hygiene and Alzheimer’s

Taking care of your teeth can affect your health much more extensively than what you may first think. A recent study by researchers at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) in the UK has found those with poor oral hygiene might suffer an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, proving visits to the dentist are not worth putting off and taking care of your oral health is essential.

a female dentist talking to her male patient in the clinic

The findings on oral hygiene and Alzheimer’s

UCLan received 20 brain donations, 10 samples from dementia patients and 10 from persons who did not have dementia when alive as part of a Brains for Dementia Research scheme.

Testing revealed the presence of bacterium Porphyromonas gingivalis in the brains of the dementia affected brain donations. This particular bacterium is known for its link to gum disease, whilst the healthy brain samples did not have a trace of the bacterium.

The study also concretes previous research which has found more links to poor oral health and Alzheimer’s. For example, one 2010 study from New York University found a link between gum inflammation and the cognitive dysfunction associated with Alzheimer’s.

Professor St John Crean from the UCLan School of Medical Dentistry says that “this new research indicates a possible association between gum disease and individuals who may be susceptible to developing Alzheimer’s disease, if exposed to the appropriate trigger.” The trigger being the bacterium entering the blood stream.

What does the research mean?

The particular nature of the bacterium means it lives in cavities. When extensive dental treatments are needed to rectify these cavities, the possibility for the bacterium to enter the bloodstream (and subsequently the brain) increases. Of course every day chewing, eating, and brushing of teeth can also cause the bacterium to enter the bloodstream, however dental work increases this chance. Once in the brain, the immune system may respond by releasing neuron-killing chemicals, leading to loss of cognitive function.

Hence, we can learn that keeping up our oral health to avoid dental work is necessary to prevent this chain of events from occurring.

Further research is under way to confirm the preliminary findings on the connection between oral hygiene and Alzheimer’s. However it is important to keep up good oral hygiene such as brushing twice a day, flossing, and having regular check-ups in order to prevent any invasive dental procedures and prevent further health complications. To book your next dental appointment contact us today at Beacon Cove Dental, we’ll make sure your experience is comfortable and gentle.