Gum disease and poor dental health may be linked to Alzheimer’s and dementia, reported CBS News on July 31. Researchers at the University of Central Lancashire School of Medicine and Dentistry identified a specific gum disease bacteria in the brains of those with dementia. And they say that the bacteria could be the missing link in terms of the cause of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia symptoms such as memory failure and confusion.
So how does this bacteria enter the brain? Researchers say that simple daily activities such as brushing your teeth and eating could cause it. “”We are working on the theory that when the brain is repeatedly exposed to bacteria and/or debris from our gums, subsequent immune responses may lead to nerve cell death and possibly memory loss,” says Sim Singhrao, PhD, a senior research fellow at the university. And the message from this study: Visiting your dentist regularly could be critical not just for your teeth but for your brain.
Although it is not clear whether poor dental hygiene actually causes dementia in otherwise healthy people, it is probably that these bacteria “could make the existing disease condition worse, ” noted St John Crean, dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry. Not included in the study: Whether dental mercury fillings could exacerbate the situation, as recently explored by Dr. Mehmet Oz on his talk show.