Can the bacteria that cause gum disease also contribute to Alzheimer’s disease? A new study suggests so, which could potentially allow treatment for Alzheimer’s. However, some researchers and doctors believe that the evidence is not strong enough to firmly establish a connection between the two. Let’s look at the study in more detail to figure out the connection between gum disease in Lutz and Alzheimer’s disease.
What Did the Study Show?
Researchers at the University of Central Lancashire School of Medicine and Dentistry in England looked at brain tissue samples donated by 10 patients with dementia and 10 patients without dementia. They found the same type of bacteria in gum disease in samples from 4 people with dementia and none from the patients without dementia.
The researchers theorized that when bacteria from gum disease reach the brain, they trigger a response from the immune system just like they do in the mouth. This can end up killing brain cells, leading to problems like confusion and loss of memory, which are common symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
What Does This Study Mean?
This was a small study of only 20 people, so it doesn’t definitively prove a connection between the two diseases in healthy people. However, it is likely that bacteria associated with gum disease can make any existing disease worse, including Alzheimer’s. Another possibility is that people with dementia have worse oral hygiene than those without it, increasing the risk of contracting gum disease. Again, no definitive answer has been found.
How Can I Prevent Gum Disease?
Just because there is no proven link between the two diseases doesn’t mean you can throw your oral hygiene habits out the window. There are a few things you can do to keep gum disease at bay, including:
- Visit your dentist in Lutz at least twice a year. Regular dental checkups can help detect gum disease while it’s still early enough to treat.
- Brush twice a day and floss at least once a day. Neglecting oral care habits can cause plaque to build up along the gumline, leading to gum disease.
- Don’t smoke. Smoking can severely damage your teeth and gums, leaving them more susceptible to infection. If you’re having trouble quitting, your dentist has resources to help you.
- Avoid sugary foods. Sugar left behind on the teeth can attract bacteria.
- Limit alcoholic drinks. Alcohol can cause dry mouth, a condition where the mouth doesn’t produce enough saliva. Saliva is important because it washes away leftover food particles that can cause bacteria to accumulate.
Although a link between gum disease and Alzheimer’s disease has not been firmly established, it never hurts to be proactive at taking good care of your oral health. Visiting your dentist in Lutz is a great way to get you started on learning how best to take care of your mouth, and maybe take care of your brain too.
About the Author
Dr. Jay Nelson has been helping the community in and around Lutz, FL for more than 30 years with all of their dental needs. He has a proficiency certification from the Academy of Laser Dentistry as well as a fellowship from the Institute for Advanced Laser Dentistry, so he is more than qualified to treat gum disease. To learn more about how to prevent and treat gum disease, contact Dr. Nelson here or call (813)-333-9265.