Good oral hygiene pays many dividends. A bright smile, sound teeth, fresh breath, these are all good things. New research has found yet another benefit: reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Brushing and flossing have been proven to help protect from cardiovascular disease, diabetes and arthritis. That’s beyond the benefits like avoiding gum disease, cavities and oral surgery. Researchers at the University of Central Lancashire recently published results of their study on the correlation between gum disease and dementia in Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
The scientists studied the brains from 20 deceased patients. Half of the patients died with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. The other half did not suffer these afflictions. They noticed a surprising difference between the two groups of brains.
The brains from patients with dementia had sharply higher concentrations of a bacteria called Porphyromonas gingivalis. This bacteria is typically associated with gum disease. How the bacteria migrated from the mouth to the brain is not well understood.
Does this concentration of gum disease bacteria mean that it causes dementia? Not necessarily. But, just as gum disease can trigger inflammation in other parts of the body that can lead to cardiovascular disease; Porphyromonas gingivalis could trigger a reaction in the brain that is somehow involved in the onset of dementia.
More research is coming. Until then, remember to brush and floss. The benefits go way beyond a winning smile!