Written By Kevin Kerfoot / Reviewed By Ray Spotts
A recent study suggests that gum disease may be associated with mild cognitive impairment and dementia 20 years later. The study - published in Neurology® - consisted 8,275 people with an average age of 63 who did not have dementia at the start of the study.
They were assessed for mild cognitive impairment and dementia, and received a full periodontal exam that included measuring gum probing depth, amount of bleeding and recession.
“We looked at people’s dental health over a 20-year period and found that people with the most severe gum disease at the start of our study had about twice the risk for mild cognitive impairment or dementia by the end,” says study author Ryan T. Demmer, Ph.D., M.P.H., of the University of Minnesota School of Public Health in Minneapolis. “However, the good news was that people with minimal tooth loss and mild gum disease were no more likely to develop thinking problems or dementia than people with no dental problems.”
“Good dental hygiene is a proven way to keep healthy teeth and gums throughout your lifetime. Our study does not prove that an unhealthy mouth causes dementia and only shows an association. Further study is needed to demonstrate the link between microbes in your mouth and dementia, and to understand if treatment for gum disease can prevent dementia.”
The participants were put into groups based on the severity and extent of their gum disease and number of lost teeth, with implants counting as lost teeth. At the start of the study, 22 percent had no gum disease, 12 percent had mild gum disease, 12 percent had severe gum inflammation, eight percent had some tooth loss, 12 percent had disease in their molars, 11 percent had severe tooth loss, six percent had severe gum disease, and 20 percent had no teeth at all.
The group with no teeth had about twice the risk compared to participants with healthy gums and all their teeth. People with intermediate or severe gum disease, but who still had some teeth, had a 20 percent greater risk of developing mild cognitive impairment or dementia compared to the healthy group.
Can Brushing your teeth postpone Alzheimer's?
Researchers at the University of Bergen have discovered a clear connection between gum disease and Alzheimer´s disease. They determined that gum disease - or gingivitis - plays a decisive role in whether a person develops Alzheimer´s.
The bacteria produce a protein that destroys nerve cells in the brain, which in turn leads to loss of memory and ultimately, Alzheimer´s. However, the bacteria is not causing Alzheimer´s alone, but the presence of these bacteria raise the risk for developing the disease substantially and are also implicated in a more rapid progression of the disease. The good news is that this study shows that there are some things you can do yourself to slow down Alzheimer´s.
"We discovered DNA-based proof that the bacteria causing gingivitis can move from the mouth to the brain," says researcher Piotr Mydel at Broegelmanns Research Laboratory, Department of Clinical Science, University of Bergen (UiB). "Brush your teeth and use floss." I
It is important, if you have established gingivitis and have Alzheimer´s in your family, to go to your dentist regularly and clean your teeth properly. "We have managed to develop a drug that blocks the harmful enzymes from the bacteria, postponing the development of Alzheimer´s,” Mydel added. “We are planning to test this drug.”
The researchers examined 53 people with Alzheimer´s and discovered the enzyme in 96 percent of the cases. Previously, researchers discovered that the bacteria causing gingivitis can move from the mouth to the brain where the harmful enzymes they excrete can destroy the nerve cells in the brain.
Now, for the first time, Mydel has DNA-evidence for this process from human brains. This knowledge gives researchers a possible new approach for attacking Alzheimer´s disease.
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With over 30 years of writing and editing experience for newspapers, magazines and corporate communications, Kevin Kerfoot writes about natural health, nutrition, green living, skincare and oral hygiene for Trusted Health Products’ natural health blog and newsletter.
Founder Ray Spotts has a passion for all things natural and has made a life study of nature as it relates to health and well-being. Ray became a forerunner bringing products to market that are extraordinarily effective and free from potentially harmful chemicals and additives. For this reason Ray formed Trusted Health Products, a company you can trust for clean, effective, and healthy products. Ray is an organic gardener, likes fishing, hiking, and teaching and mentoring people to start new businesses. You can get his book for free, “How To Succeed In Business Based On God’s Word,” at www.rayspotts.com.