Discovery of the connection between oral health and Alzheimer’s disease

A group of researchers discovered a link between oral hygiene and the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Specifically, researchers at the University of Bergen (UiB), led by Piotr Mydel, found that the bacteria that cause gingivitis can pass directly from the mouth to the brain. Here they can produce a protein that destroys the nerve cells of the brain itself, which in turn can lead to conditions such as memory loss and ultimately to Alzheimer’s disease.

These bacteria therefore increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, and even when Alzheimer’s disease is already present, they accelerate its development. The same researcher therefore advises people to floss their teeth and, if there are cases of Alzheimer’s disease in the family, to visit the dentist regularly.

That the bacteria that cause gingivitis were linked to certain negative brain diseases, in particular the destruction of nerve cells, had already been discovered before but Mydel, with this new study, published in Science Advances, brings evidence based on DNA.

The researcher examined 53 people with Alzheimer’s and in 96% of cases discovered the harmful enzymes expelled by the bacterium Porphyromonas gingivalis. This knowledge may prove useful in developing new approaches to combat Alzheimer’s disease through a new drug that researchers themselves are planning and testing.

Kate Robinson

I am currently working on my postgraduate degree in Journalism at UNSW and contribute content here from time to time. I have had a life-long interest in science and thoroughly enjoy reading through different scientific journals.

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Kate Robinson